Yale: Why prioritizing DEI matters within infectious diseases

As COVID-19 raged on in early 2020, disproportionately affecting communities of color, New Haven, Conn.-based Yale physicians and professors joined together to form the Infectious Diseases Diversity, Equity and Antiracism consortium to address systemic racism and medical mistrust within the field.

"We were driven by the fact that many of our patients in infectious diseases face significant health disparities," Jaimie Meyer, MD, associate professor of medicine for infectious diseases at the Yale School of Medicine, said in an April 3 report on the initiative. "We take care of patients with HIV, substance use disorders, social barriers to health, structural barriers to care. It was our goal to leverage our collective expertise and transform the culture of the section, from the inside-out."

Shortly after its formation, the program quickly became incorporated into the infectious disease training curriculum. Course topics cover a variety of information regarding inequities like medical experimentation, geographic racism, medical mistrust, transgender medical experiences and information on the gender tax.

Each week, fellows involved in the curriculum present a slide about "social determinants of health related to their presentation topics," according to Marjorie Golden, MD, associate professor of clinical medicine at Yale and co-chair of the program.

Its implementation has also led the university to prioritize a renewed focus on recruitment of diverse fellows for its programs, the article reports. 

Now, the curriculum focuses on achieving three main goals, according to its website:

  1. To educate faculty, fellows and trainees about structural racism and biases and enhance their knowledge of attitudes toward these areas.

  2. To improve the overall health outcomes, access and care in an equitable way for all patients. 

  3. To further establish professional development opportunities and build upon institutional changes in a way that promotes diversity, equity and inclusion.

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