AΩA honor medical society recognizes SMHS for excellence in inclusion, diversity and equity

The Alpha Omega Alpha (AΩA) Honor Medical Society has given the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences (SMHS) a 2019 Award for Excellence in Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Medical Education and Patient Care. The SMHS is one of only four medical schools in the U.S. to receive the award in 2019.

UND received its award on the strength of its Indians Into Medicine (INMED) program, which “seeks out, nurtures and supports American Indian and Alaskan Native students on their paths to becoming physicians,” noted an AΩA release. “The program ensures that 10% of the School’s medical class each year [comprised of 78 total students] are a part of the American Indian population.”

“This is outstanding,” noted Dr. Donald Warne, director of UND’s INMED and Master of Public Health programs and associate dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the School. “Our School is consistently in the top slot in the nation for the percentage of medical students identifying as American Indian, but now we’ve begun thinking further upstream. We’re exploring kindergarten through high school [K-12] programs, and maybe even pre-K for INMED. And looking downstream, we’re thinking about INMED residency programs and other leadership development programs for indigenous physicians.”

Dr. Warne said all of this builds on the program’s efforts to develop an INMED pre-med program at the bachelor level at UND and dual M.D./Ph.D. and J.D./M.P.H. degrees for American Indian students interested in health policy, research, and law.

“We’re very excited about this!” added Dr. Cornelius “Mac” Dyke, associate dean of the School’s southeast campus in Fargo, N.D., who coordinated the AΩA application for UND. “INMED deserves this national stage.”

The award, established earlier this year, recognizes medical schools (and their associated AΩA Chapter) that demonstrate exemplary leadership, innovation, and engagement in fostering an inclusive culture that transforms the ideals of inclusion, diversity, and equity into successful programs to support medical students, house staff, and faculty diversity in service to the community.

Criteria for award selection include a broad range of diversity and inclusiveness-centered initiatives, including efforts to support recruitment and retention of medical students, faculty, and staff from diverse backgrounds; multicultural programming or related initiatives; community outreach and pipeline activities; programs that enhance diversity and inclusion; mentoring, coaching, and role modeling programs related to diversity and inclusion; and established programs/activities that advance an understanding of, and astute respect for, cultural competence.

“I am extremely proud of our INMED program and the several hundred doctors who graduated from it over the more than four decades it has been in existence,” commented Dr. Joshua Wynne, interim president of UND, vice president for Health Affairs, and dean of the SMHS. “UND is grateful for this national recognition of INMED’s noteworthy contributions that reflect the combined efforts of faculty, staff, and especially students.”