At Michigan Medicine, we strive every day to live our mission, which is to advance health to serve Michigan and the world. All parts of our academic medical center – patient care, education, and research – are critical contributors to our mission. But importantly, diversity is also a key component.

Building a diverse work force in health care has great impacts to the populations and communities we serve. Decades of work has shown that health in its broadest sense – from disease prevention to hospitalization to return to health – is improved by incorporating social and societal context into the care we deliver. There is no substitute for a health care team who understands how a person’s environment, from their family life, food they eat, to where they work and live, intersects with health.

Studies show that patient satisfaction and health outcomes are improved when health providers and their patients have concordance in their racial, ethnic, and language backgrounds. The AAMC, the AAFP, and others across the medical community have expanded the discussion of diversity to include additional characteristics such as ancestry, national origin, immigration status, religion, age, marital status, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, and disability.

There is still vast opportunity to increase diversity among our health care providers, support staff, and administrative partners. We strive to be more inclusive in our hiring and recruiting, our retention efforts, and in our medical school and graduate program students and trainees. Our efforts must encompass the entire 365 degrees around our academic medical center.

Open dialogue and the ability for us to recognize and appreciate our differences are paramount to increasing our diversity and inclusivity. While our tendency may be to shy away from uncomfortable conversations, like anything we do to learn and grow, there is a learning curve before we become well-versed. I encourage you to wander beyond your comfort zone. Welcome a different perspective, a challenging opinion, or an unorthodox approach. Entertaining new and different ideas will only make us better.

Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, University of Michigan Medical School
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs
CEO, Michigan Medicine