July 28, 2021

New ACGME Equity Matters™ Initiative Aims to Increase Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion within Graduate Medical Education and Promote Health Equity

In support of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) is proud to announce ACGME Equity MattersTM, a new initiative that introduces a framework for continuous learning and process improvement in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and anti-racism practices. The initiative aims to drive change within graduate medical education (GME) by increasing physician workforce diversity and building safe and inclusive learning environments, while promoting health equity by addressing racial disparities in health care and overall population health. ACGME Equity Matters launched last week with the convening of the first Learning Community to embark on the 18-month engagement cycle.

ACGME Equity Matters, led by the national accreditor’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, will provide a comprehensive set of ideas, models, and data to support interventions that address structural barriers to developing a diverse physician workforce that will improve care for diverse patient populations.

“The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on America’s Black, Brown and indigenous communities paired with the civil unrest fueled by the murders of George Floyd and so many others in 2020, and the undeniable link of both phenomena to inequity and structural racism drives the urgency to create methods to address change in all segments of society. The ACGME Equity Matters program seeks to promote the necessary infrastructure in learning that will promote change in graduate medical education practices,” said William A. McDade, MD, PhD, chief diversity, equity, and inclusion officer, ACGME.

“I am proud of the collaborations and conversations that occurred to bring about this innovative and important initiative that we believe will help move the needle across medical education and health care. These challenging times have shone an even brighter light on the need for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in learning environments where physicians train, and beyond,” said Bonnie Simpson Mason, MD, FAAOS, vice president, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, ACGME.

“One of the ways the ACGME is responding to the need to create change in the physician workforce and clinical learning environment is by convening multiple stakeholders as contributors to the development of new solutions through ACGME Equity Matters process improvement,” Dr. Simpson Mason said. “More specifically we have initially assembled four learning communities comprised of a range of organizations that include over 265 individual participants who will supplement their existing experience and knowledge in DEI and antiracism with over 30 online fundamentals courses led by over 50 academic subject matter experts before beginning on the task of creating new tools to address unmet need in promotion of DEI in GME learning environments.”

Learning Community activities will be facilitated by faculty members who are DEI and systems change agents to ensure the ideas generated in the process become implementable and drive improvement in GME. These new ideas will add to the growing resource of practices currently employed by the GME community to address challenges for which better approaches are needed.

The ACGME Equity Matters fundamentals courses comprise a self-directed framework intended to guide participants through progressively more complex concepts within the four domains of DEI process improvement: Acknowledgement; Acceptance and Accountability; Action; and Assessment and Adaptation.

The Action phase involves taking the Learning Communities through the process of identifying challenges that stand before creation of a more diverse physician workforce and an inclusive and equitable learning environment. They will then access the ACGME Equity Matters Resource, a toolkit of solutions to those challenges. The Resource is comprised of approaches that have been collected and curated by the ACGME through responses obtained from the annual program updates reported by over 12,000 accredited programs, the more detailed descriptions contributed by applicants for the ACGME’s Barbara Ross-Lee, DO Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award, and through published materials on DEI practices obtained from the medical education literature.

After matching challenges to solutions, the Learning Communities will identify gaps for which a challenge is found to exist and for which there is currently no solution to address it. The Learning Communities will then be tasked with creating a viable solution to that unmet need and implementing it at an institution, program, or within a specialty organization. The Assessment and Adaptation phase will support measuring the success of the innovations and modifying them as appropriate to yield the most favorable outcomes.

“The ACGME has always been focused on continuous improvement of educational and clinical environments to positively impact patient outcomes,” said Thomas J. Nasca, MD, MACP, president and chief executive officer, ACGME. “It is now more important than ever that we join hands with our partners in medical education to advance knowledge and develop solutions that eliminate disparities of care, and to identify and disseminate policies and practices that enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion within the physician workforce.”

Visit the DEI homepage to learn more about the ACGME's diversity, equity, and inclusion work.

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Susan White

Susan White

Vice President, Communications