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Forum explores  diversity, inclusion strategies

Dec. 1, 2016, 9:34 AM

André Churchwell, M.D., Chief Diversity Officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), and Traci Nordberg, J.D., Chief Human Resources Officer, hosted a Diversity & Inclusion welcome event on Nov. 18 in which Churchwell discussed his vision for the Office for Diversity Affairs and the strategic planning necessary to make diversity and inclusion intentional throughout the Medical Center.

André Churchwell, M.D.
André Churchwell, M.D.

In his role, Churchwell works with Medical Center leadership to focus on diversity as it relates to the business plan, business practices and the local community and region.

Collaborating with departments throughout the Medical Center, he has formed an Executive Diversity Council (EDC) that will address issues surrounding diversity and inclusion, including increasing diversity among key administrative, nursing and physician leadership positions.

“I look at this as really key partnerships. I view this as something everyone needs to have some part of,” Churchwell said in welcoming the crowd that gathered in the north lobby of Light Hall.

The goal of the EDC is to consider diversity not only among resident physicians and faculty but how it impacts VUMC patients, patient services, interpretive services, human resources and Medical Center suppliers.

“Diversity has to be wedded to inclusion. You can be diverse, but if we’re not included in the major leadership councils, on the committees that are making decisions, and leadership positions, then diversity can’t realize its full effect in terms of how it can transform this Medical Center and transform this country,” Churchwell said. “And inclusion, as Dean Balser (Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., President and CEO of VUMC and dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine) has mentioned, has to be intentional. You have to pause to ask if we have the right number of people and type of people on these committees to understand what the community really needs.”

The VUMC Office of Diversity Affairs will have help in achieving its goals with the recent appointment of Arie L. Nettles, Ph.D., to the role of director of the Office of Inclusion and Health Equity (OIHE) for Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital. Nettles continues to serve in this role for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a position she has held since 2012.

Arie L. Nettles, Ph.D.
Arie L. Nettles, Ph.D.

“You have to do your homework; you have to identify stakeholders and get know people, the division leaders, faculty and staff. That is my goal,” Nettles said of her initial plans. “Collaboration for systematic education and training will be key for the adult side of the Medical Center, and we will make it as seamless as possible, and make it known that this is part of the fabric that the Medical Center has always been about.”

The OIHE will continue its focus on four areas: workforce training/education; continued evaluation and improvement of patient satisfaction in cross-cultural communications; expanded inclusion and health equity efforts through a strategic vision and plan; and supporting research to identify and eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities.

Nettles, associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Developmental Medicine, will continue to care for patients ages 7-21 with developmental disabilities and autism.

“I must stay connected to my clinical work because that’s really a connection with what we’re doing.”

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