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    Transcript for Ask an Expert About … Creating a More Diverse Medical Workforce


    GEOFFREY YOUNG: Hello, Rachel. I'm Geoffrey Young — Dr. Geoffrey Young. I'm a clinical psychologist, and I would say that I've worked most of my career in academic medicine. First as a student affairs dean and then prior to coming to the AAMC, as an admissions dean. And so I work with students from sort of entry through graduation, and that's very important. 

    So, I would consider myself an expert in the student services. And that includes admissions and student affairs. Student diversity affairs, records, and financial aid.  

    RACHEL BUNN: Yeah, welcome to the show, Geoff. We're so excited to have you. So, as always, we ask people around our community for their questions for you, and then we get you to answer them. 

    If you are part of our community and have a question for our next expert, be sure to follow us @AAMCToday on Twitter or Instagram, or join our community at aamc.communities.org. Keep a lookout for the ask. So, we will get started with our questions. So, Geoff, you told us a little bit about your job title, but what is it that you actually do here at the AAMC? 

    YOUNG: Yeah, great question. So, currently I'm the senior director for transforming the health care workforce. And so, what that is really designed to do is to look at providing access, equitable opportunities, and basically provide resources for those students that aspire to pursue medicine — and I would even add to that the health care workforce. 

    BUNN: Yeah, so why is that work so important here at the AAMC? And why do we have a stake in the ground here?  

    YOUNG: Yeah, great question. Ultimately, it's about the health of this country. And so, you know, when we really think about and look at data, evidence really indicates that having a diverse workforce is going to provide more equitable care for populations that, that we ultimately, take care of. 

    And so diversity in medicine is really important because it offers, not only our physicians, but it offers our patients to really engage in a trusting relationship that will ultimately, we think, improve the quality of health care that they provide.  

    BUNN: Yeah. And when we say diversity, what do we mean by diversity in medicine? 

    YOUNG: Yeah. Great question. So, diversity, I think many people think about when they hear diversity, they think about race, ethnicity, and sex. But diversity is much broader than that. And so, we have to think about socioeconomic status. We think about sexual orientation. We think about, you know, disability. We think about marital status. We think about, you know, being multilingual. So diversity is, is extremely broad. And having a diverse workforce, we think, that represents the larger community is important in establishing those trusting relationships.  

    BUNN: Yeah. And, you know, we know that there are some groups that are already underrepresented in medicine. Why is it important to have those groups represented? 

    YOUNG: Yeah. Yeah. As I stated earlier, data really indicates that having a diverse workforce, or even I would say even before that, having diversity within medical education really offers learners to learn from one another. It enriches the environment. If you have differences in diversity that I mentioned, that offers really an opportunity to listen, to learn, to potentially be exposed to things one has not been exposed to. It offers an opportunity to have conversations with others and learn. So, we think that diversity enriches the learning environment, and then we also know that having a diverse health care team increases the wellness of our patients. It increases the effectiveness of care.  

    BUNN: Yeah, everybody wants to be — feel better.  

    YOUNG: Absolutely. Absolutely.  

    Yeah, so we do know that diversity, equity, and inclusion is a hot button issue right now. But how do you feel about diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in medical education and academic medicine? 

    YOUNG: Yeah, they’re important. So, I think it's also important to understand that they are separate concepts, but they're highly interconnected. So, I've already talked about diversity. Equity is really about levelling the playing field. So, it's really trying to address systemic barriers that have impacted those communities that are historically underrepresented or that have been historically excluded from medicine. 

    So, it's about fairness. It's really about fairness. Inclusion is really about valuing everyone's authentic self in the environment. So, it's, it's like, OK, my experiences, my values, what I bring is of value, and it's not just a one off. So, I think, you know, when I think about diversity, equity, and inclusion, it's really important in combination because it — ideally it's going to provide an environment that enables everyone to thrive, regardless of what your ethnic or racial or gender is. It's, it's —  

    BUNN: Yeah. And, and what is the AAMC doing specifically to help widen that path to medicine and get more people to become doctors?  

    YOUNG: So, we recognize that there's likely to be a shortage of up to 124, 000 physicians by 2034. So, the AAMC has, I think, has always worked to try to offer resources to those interested in medicine. So, we have various resources. We have a premedical team. We offer virtual fairs. We have resources, again, that educate students about how to begin to approach medicine. What are the things to be thinking about how to make yourself a more competitive applicant? I think the other piece that we're currently doing is that we recognize that if we're going to diversify the health care workforce, we need to go further upstream, right? Starting in college is way too late. So, if we're going to diversify, we need to really try to address, again, some of those equity issues and offer access, information to those students, or those communities, that have historically been without access, without resources so that they can make educated decisions about how to pursue medicine. 

    So we are, we are working both internally, we're looking at partnerships to try to advance providing better resources, better education to those that want to pursue medicine.  

    BUNN: Yeah, that's so great. So thank you so much for joining us. We have one last question for you. And I did promise you a fun question. So, who would be your ideal dinner party guest or guests? We'll let you open that up.  

    YOUNG: Wow, that's a great question. So, and I'm gonna answer it within this context. So, I would probably say my paternal grandfather. And I'll share with you why. So just very quickly, I recently lost my dad. And so my grandfather had such a powerful impact on him. I would just love the opportunity to meet him, talk with him, and learn from him. So that’s who I would ask to have dinner with.  

    BUNN: Oh, that's such a great dinner party guest, too. Yeah. Thank you so much, Geoff, for joining us today. We appreciate your time and you sharing a little bit more with us. 

    YOUNG: Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

    [End of Audio]