November 10, 2021

Moving the Needle: WashU Ortho’s DEI Committee

Diversity, equity and inclusion has become a vital part of conversations across industries. The intense social reckoning of the past few years ushered in a new era of examining how organizations – from schools to health care to government – approach diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and calls upon leaders to identify opportunities for improvement.

Teaming Up

To address DEI within Washington University’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, a department that includes over 500 employees, a designated committee has formed and meets monthly to discuss challenges and outline progress. Led by Eric Carson, MD (professor and chief of orthopedic surgery at the VA), and Derrick Melton, MHSA, MBA (senior director of orthopedic clinical operations), WashU Ortho’s DEI committee represents a diverse sampling of the Department: residents, staff and faculty, men and women, people of color, those just starting careers and those tenured in their positions.

We recognize that the formation of a DEI Committee is only the first step in a continuous conversation, but it is a critical one. The committee has been meeting monthly for more than a year: There have been difficult conversations, invited guests for education, and increasing excitement about the ability of our department to make a difference.

Making an Impact

The committee’s ultimate goal is to make recommendations on how to positively impact DEI in the department and community. To do that, committee members identified specific initiatives to target and formed subcommittees to explore how to move the needle for each. Subcommittees include:

  • Recruitment: Pursuing a department faculty, staff and trainee population representative of the communities we serve ensures that we stay on the forefront of care delivery and clinical best practices. That’s the goal of this subcommittee, whose members are focused on diversity and equity in recruitment.
  • Department Inclusiveness: Inclusion may mean something different to each person. For some, it may mean having a seat at the decision-making table. For others, it may mean feeling a sense of welcome and belonging in their teams. Still, for others, it may simply mean individual perspectives (such as gender, race, socioeconomic status) are taken into consideration when decisions are made. The goal of this subcommittee is to identify what inclusiveness means in our department, and what we can do to continuously improve our workplace climate.
  • DE&I Research and Scholarship: As an academic medical center, and as the country’s top NIH-funded orthopedic program, we know just how valuable research is to medical discovery and clinical advancement. This group will work to identify currently-underway research related to DEI, like this [insert example], and investigate funding opportunities for future research and continuing education for those underrepresented in medicine (URM).
  • Community Health Equity: What is the current state of health disparity in our community? How do we, as an orthopedic clinical service, fit into community health needs? What is our department's current level of involvement in community health? These are the questions tasked to this subcommittee, and the answers will hopefully identify gaps in our outreach and guide decisions on how to increase our impact.
  • Clinical Health Equity: We want to grow our impact on community health, and examining equitable delivery of care starts right in our own clinics. One such clinic includes the Center for Outpatient Health, which has been reexamined from multiple perspectives to assure that equitable orthopedic care is provided and appropriate resources, like therapy, splinting and full support of each patient, are available.
  • Women in Orthopedics: While women now account for more than half of medical school students, men still significantly outnumber women in surgical specialties. In orthopedics, female faculty are the least represented, coming in at 5.3%. This subcommittee is looking at ways to better support women in the field of orthopedic surgery, including increasing representation in leadership roles and growing the pipeline of female orthopedic surgeons.

This committee and its subcommittees are dedicated to uncovering actionable change strategies, and we look forward to continued progress in delivering equitable care, outcomes and opportunities for all.

Meet the committee members:

Marschall Berkes, MD – Clinical Faculty  Matthew Matava, MD – Clinical faculty
Martin Boyer, MD – Clinical Faculty Derrick Melton – Sr. Director, Clinical Operations
Eric Carson, MD – Clinical Faculty Megan Meyer – Admin. Coordinator
Brittany Dukes, MD – PGY-3 Julia Partin, DPM – Clinical Faculty
Doug Easler – Exec. Director, Business  Cecilia Pascual-Garrido, MD, PhD – Clinical Faculty
Roberta Faccio, PhD – Research faculty Andrea Spates, RN – Nurse Administrator
Kate Gerull, MD – PGY-2 Andrea Tian, MD – PGY-4
Charles Goldfarb, MD – Exec. Vice Chair; Clinical faculty Lindley Wall, MD, MSc – Clinical Faculty
Jeremy Hartman, MD – Clinical faculty Gerald Williams – Lead Ortho Tech
Justin Hicks, MD – PGY-4  
Amanda Lovelace – Director, Marketing  

More information on DEI is available from Washington University’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, including training, resources and news.

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