Monday, March 1, 2021

Diversifying Academic Psychiatry Workforce Requires More Than Talk, Psychiatrists Say

Increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in academic psychiatry requires that DEI leaders be given a voice in the highest levels of decision making and backed with resources necessary to institute an effective response for cultural change. So wrote a group of leaders from public and private psychiatry departments across the country in an article in the March issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“DEI leaders are being summoned for one-on-one and programmatic consultation, antiracist curriculum development, antibias training, and skill acquisition,” wrote Ayana Jordan, M.D., Ph.D. (pictured above), of Yale University and colleagues. “However, many of these institutions do not provide the appropriate resources or support necessary to institute an effective response for cultural change. This lack of scaffolding leads to an exacerbation of the ‘minority tax,’ thereby placing more duress on the very same people adversely affected by structural racism.” (The “minority tax” is defined as the extra, financially uncompensated duties and responsibilities that are often placed on minority academics in the name of diversity.)

Implementing strategic decisions related to antiracism and diversity is key to excellence in research, clinical care, and education, Jordan and colleagues continued. Drawing on their own extensive experiences advocating at seven psychiatric departments in the country, the authors provided several recommendations for how departments can effectively support DEI leadership:

  • Make clear the roles and responsibilities of the DEI position when the position is first presented to potential candidates, with responsibilities commensurate with financial effort provided.
  • Elevate DEI leaders to the status of a vice or associate chair in the department to signify the importance of the role. Include this leader in all departmental leadership meetings.
  • As with all leadership positions, set a term limit for the position; the recommended option is a 10-year maximum term with an evaluation after five years.
  • Ensure additional salary support, discretionary funds, and staff to carry out planned DEI efforts.

“The recruitment and retention of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) faculty in academic medicine remains a challenge,” wrote former APA President Altha Stewart, M.D., in an accompanying editorial describing the historical context of the lack of diversity in today’s workforce. “[L]eaders in key positions must recognize some of the unintentional but well-institutionalized barriers in their systems and implement strategies that create more balanced, equitable, and welcoming environments for these individuals.”

To learn more, listen to AJP Executive Editor Michael Roy’s interview with Jordan and co-author Christina Mangurian, M.D., M.A.S., of the University of California, San Francisco.

Don’t Miss Out on Lowest Fees for APA’s Annual Meeting

Today is the deadline to register at the lowest rate available for APA’s online 2021 Annual Meeting. The meeting, which will be held Saturday to Monday, May 1 to 3, will include 135 scientific sessions led by experts with live Q&As, poster sessions, Virtual Exhibit Gallery, Product Theaters, opportunities for member engagement, and more. Pulitzer Prize–winner Isabel Wilkerson, author of The New York Times bestsellers The Warmth of Other Suns and Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, will be the keynote speaker at the 2021 Annual Meeting Opening Session on Saturday, May 1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, M.D., will deliver the William C. Menninger Memorial Convocation Lecture on Sunday, May 2.

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