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‘Diversitas’ supports collaborative effort to embrace diversity and inclusion at UAMS

Dr. Billy Thomas
Billy Thomas, MD, MPH
Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion
Professor, College of Medicine

By Billy Thomas, MD, MPH
Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion
Professor, College of Medicine

This is the first of what we hope to be many issues of “Diversitas.” Our aim is to provide information and a forum for communication both within and outside the institution. This signals one of many very positive steps for us – the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) – as we acknowledge and embrace the benefits of diversity and inclusion as it relates to our overall mission of education, patient care, research, and outreach.  Through “Diversitas” we seek to provide clear and objective commentary submitted by any of the academic units, institutes, or centers located on the UAMS campus. It will also provide a venue in which concerns from underrepresented and/or marginalized populations within the institution have a voice.

UAMS is the largest employer in the state, now employing more than 10,000 workers. Over the past decade we have experienced a very rapid physical expansion. In addition to the establishment of the College of Public Health, several of our existing colleges have added new programs.  Along with this expansion has come an increase in faculty, staff, students, and hospital personnel. The makeup of this additional pool of workers is becoming increasingly diverse and more closely mirrors the rapidly changing demographics of the state. There are 2.8 million people in Arkansas with minorities comprising about 22-23% of the population. In order to provide equitable, quality health care and remain competitive, we must develop and implement programs, policies, and practices that promote and foster diversity and inclusion.

Our hope is that “Diversitas” will play not only a pivotal role as a centralized communication vehicle for the entire campus, but will be an integral part of our long-term goal of having UAMS become a true “center of diversity” and a major contributor to the existing body of knowledge surrounding diversity, inclusion and cultural competency. More broadly, our aim is for the Center for Diversity Affairs to play a key supporting role in the integration of the many activities that exist within each college into an institutional effort that is truly interdisciplinary. Ultimately, with the embrace of diversity and inclusion as core values in all of what we do at UAMS, our goal is to produce a health care workforce with a holistic approach to patient care that includes an understanding of the many determinants of health and the cultural awareness to respond sensitively to those served.