ACGME Equity Matters: Building a Diverse Physician Workforce

October 17, 2023

In today’s world, the call for increased diversity in the field of medicine has never been more crucial. Health inequities persist in underserved and minority communities, while the physician workforce has made minimal progress in expanding its ranks to underrepresented in medicine (UIM) individuals. It is imperative that we create opportunities to attract and support a wide range of medical professionals who can better represent and serve our diverse society.

In support of its commitment to creating these opportunities, the ACGME launched ACGME Equity Matters™, a program that supplies a framework for continuous learning and process improvement in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and antiracism practices. The immersive 18-month program is designed to equip participants with knowledge and skills to broaden the physician workforce with health equity practices.

ACGME Equity Matters aims to drive change within graduate medical education (GME) by increasing physician workforce diversity, building safe and inclusive learning environments, and promoting health equity by addressing racial disparities in health care and overall population health.

Drawing from the Experiences of Previous Cohorts
The first cohort of the program began in 2021 and completed its work in 2022. Participating institutions in that group report they have successfully embraced core knowledge and skills necessary for effecting change in GME. They have become part of a vibrant community of practice dedicated to integrating equity principles into health care. This cohort’s participants actively engaged with their peers in a continuous quality improvement (CQI) process aim at promoting positive changes in GME equity practices. The central objective was for participants to drive a culture shift in GME, ensuring that equity practices are seamlessly integrated into leadership, workforce, workplace, and patient care.

The ACGME Equity Matters Learning Communities were expertly organized, with industry professionals serving as facilitators. These facilitators provided opportunities for building a supportive community and enhancing the capacity of GME leaders to address diversity and equity challenges using trauma-informed approaches, ultimately fostering connectivity within their respective organizations.

Participating institutions embarked on skills-based projects that not only enriched their understanding but also contributed significantly to the program’s overarching mission. Key themes explored by these past participants include:

  • Systems of Practice: Participants explored deep into the inner workings of GME in health care systems, identifying areas where diversity and equity could be seamlessly integrated. They acquired the ability to navigate complex structures, ensuring fair representation and access for all.
  • Faculty Development: Recognizing that building a diverse physician workforce starts with the educators, participants explored strategies for recruiting and retaining diverse faculty members, recognizing their pivotal role in shaping future medical professionals.
  • Resident/Fellow Recruitment: Attracting a diverse pool of residents and fellows was a primary focus area. Participants developed innovative recruitment strategies that proved adaptable to different demographics and communities.
  • Clinical Care: Participants identified gaps in care delivery and devised solutions that prioritized inclusivity and cultural competence.
  • Pathway Programs: The development of programs offering UIM individuals a clear path into medical careers was a significant focus. Participants discovered ways to break down barriers and promote diversity at the grassroots level.
  • Curriculum Development: Participants played a pivotal role in reshaping curricula to be more inclusive, reflecting the diverse patient populations that physicians serve.

Through their projects, participating institutions, with the generous support of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois and the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, contributed to the overarching goal of ACGME Equity Matters: increasing physician workforce diversity and fostering safe and inclusive learning environments in health care.

Past participants share the following feedback: 

ACGME Equity Matters has transformed the way I approach this topic and the way I teach it. Learning from peers across the country and sharing my experience with others has increased my passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion” – Ricardo Correa, MD, EdD. Program Director Fellowship and Director Diversity on GME, University of Arizona College of Medicine- Phoenix

“The overall experience was well worth it, and I know that I am a better leader due to the 18 months we spent really deep diving into the work that is necessary to address the needs of the communities we serve” – Rani Morrison Williams, MS, MSW, LCSW, FACHE, CDE Chief Diversity and Community Health Equity Officer, University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System

ACGME Lessons Learned
As facilitators of this transformative program, the staff members of the ACGME’s Department of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion have had the privilege of witnessing the growth and development of program participants. They have learned that meaningful change is not only possible, but attainable when a diverse group of medical professionals come together with a shared commitment to equity and inclusion. Department staff members have honed the skills needed to help facilitate these crucial conversations, guide project management development, and provide ongoing support to future participants.

The team at the ACGME has also seen firsthand how participants have effectively transformed the culture within their own organizations, integrating equity practices into leadership, workforce, workplace, and patient care. This transformation has had a profound impact on the medical community and has been translated into improved learner experience and patient outcomes.

Join the New Cohort!
If you are passionate about advancing DEI in medical education and health care, we extend an invitation for you to join the new ACGME Equity Matters Learning Community.

By participating, you commit to developing robust, sustainable approaches to improving DEI focused on increasing physician diversity and providing inclusive learning and working environments. Participants include DEI officers, C-Suite leaders, graduate medical educators, residents, and fellows. Over the course of 18 months, you will engage in monthly learning sessions with likeminded professionals that cover various project themes, all skillfully guided by facilitators.

The lessons learned from past participants, coupled with the dedication of our ACGME team, have transformed this program into a potent force for change. We wholeheartedly invite you to be part of this journey toward a more inclusive and equitable future in medicine.

For more information and to apply to participate, visit the ACGME Equity Matters Learning Community, web page.