Why Diversity in Medicine Matters

The killing of George Floyd was certainly not the first but perhaps among the most flagrant acts of callous disregard for human life in recent memory, inciting a slew of protests, conversation, and calls to action to abolish racial and social injustice. The Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council is committed to adding our voice to this crucial cause and working in partnership with NewYork-Presbyterian and the Washington Heights community to address and dismantle structural racism and inequity in our program, institution, and society at large.

The patients and families we take care of at NewYork-Presbyterian may come to us in moments of distress and vulnerability. During these times, families look to a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, and technicians to guide them through some of the most challenging days of their lives. They trust that each member of the team will bring a perspective or skill that adds to their care, from admission to discharge, working together for an outcome that’s greater than the sum of the individual parts.

Just as providing excellent patient care requires the collaborative work of a multidisciplinary care team, creating an environment where people can learn, share, and grow with each other requires a diverse group with members informed by different backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. The value of that diversity can be seen in our patients and communities, particularly here in Northern Manhattan, where demographics can vary significantly from neighborhood to neighborhood. (1)

Recent studies have shown low rates of racial diversity nationwide among pediatric residents and fellows, and low gender diversity across faculty and leadership positions. (2) With real concerns about health disparities gaining well-deserved attention, hospitals are tasked with cultivating a physician workforce that mirrors the patients they treat, and one that is equipped to handle the health care needs of diverse children. 

The Pediatric Diversity and Inclusion Council was created to address this need while celebrating and supporting the unique and varied people who make up the Department of Pediatrics. Our residents and faculty are promoting initiatives in the hospital and community, and encouraging members from all backgrounds to share and learn from each other in an environment of mutual respect. We are very excited to be working on such important issues, and invite you to join us as we continue to work toward improving the lives of coworkers and patients alike.

(1) Mehrotra, Apurva, et al. Celebrating Strengths, Addressing Needs: Community Driven Solutions to Improve Well-Being in Northern Manhattan. May 2018, pp. 11–14

(2) Mendoza FS, Walker LR, Stoll BJ, Fuentes-Afflick E, St Geme JW 3rd, Cheng TL, Gonzalez del Rey JA, Harris CE, Rimsza ME, Li J, Sectish TC. Diversity and inclusion training in pediatric departments. Pediatrics. 2015 Apr;135(4):707-13. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-1653. Epub 2015 Mar 9. PubMed PMID: 25755235.