Columbia Joins Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education Project

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

The Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) is among 11 medical schools selected to participate in the Anti-Racist Transformation (ART) in Medical Education project funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation in partnership with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. ART seeks to replicate a model originally developed by the Icahn School of Medicine to dismantle systemic racism and bias in work and learning environments and to promote shared learning on this process within and across medical schools.

Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford and Hetty Cunningham, co-leaders of the Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education project at VP&S
Jean-Marie Alves-Bradford and Hetty Cunningham, co-leaders of the Anti-Racist Transformation in Medical Education project at VP&S

Most efforts to dismantle racism at medical schools focus mainly on the curriculum, recruitment strategies, and unconscious bias training. ART brings a systemic point of view to its approach, entailing the creation of a transformative strategy that is continuous, empowers people within the medical school to take action, and responds to the changing world around us.

Participation in ART builds on the work of the VP&S Anti-Racism Task Force, which calls for advancements in curriculum, admissions, student support, and the learning environment. One fundamental recommendation of the task force is to launch a new equity and justice committee.

“In response to this core task force recommendation, as well as others, I am excited to launch the VP&S Anti-Racism Coalition, which represents an interdisciplinary effort to promote a sustainable culture of inclusion and diversity; to create, adopt, and strengthen anti-racist educational systems and practices; and to support equity and justice throughout the VP&S learning environment,” says Monica L. Lypson, MD, MHPE, vice dean for education and the Rolf H. Scholdager Professor of Medicine at VP&S. “The aims of the coalition will include the institutionalization of the task force recommendations toward lasting change.”

An executive committee of VP&S students, staff, and faculty will anchor the coalition, which launches with the MD program and will eventually encompass all VP&S academic programs. A foundational early goal of the coalition’s executive committee will be to extend engagement in and encouragement of their critical work to all members of the medical school’s learning environment.

“I look forward to partnering with our community to continue the journey of ensuring we have an inclusive learning environment that continually works to dismantle the structures of discrimination and racism,” says Lypson.

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