May 7, 2010

Cardiology program’s diversity efforts recognized

Featured Image

Front row, from left, are Douglas Sawyer, M.D., Lisa Mendes, M.D., Linda Selfridge, program coordinator for the Fellowship Training Program, and Henry Okafor, M.D. Back row, from left, are Uchechukwu Sampson, M.D., Keith Churchwell, M.D., Kimberli Taylor, M.D., and Andre Churchwell, M.D. (photo by Susan Urmy)

Cardiology program’s diversity efforts recognized

The Association of Black Cardiologists (ABC) recently presented Vanderbilt's Division of Cardiology with its inaugural Diversity Award in recognition of the Meharry/Vanderbilt Cardiology Fellowship Program and Vanderbilt's recruitment of diverse students.

“I think we are unique in that we are the only Division of Cardiology that stepped up to the table to do this type of program with a historically black medical school, and more importantly ABC was very supportive of funding one-third of that salary commitment,” said Andre Churchwell, M.D., associate dean for Diversity in Graduate Medical Education and Faculty Affairs.

“I think because of Vanderbilt's unwavering support for 10 years, they thought it was time to acknowledge it by giving us this award.”

Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and ABC jointly sponsor a fellowship position in Cardiology for an African-American student who has a commitment to conduct research or clinical practice in a diverse community. The program began in 2002.

All Cardiology fellows in the Vanderbilt Program gain a diverse experience while spending a portion of their training at Meharry.

“Our partnership with Meharry improves the diversity of our Fellows' training experience, as well as improves access to cardiology care for people taken care of at Meharry Clinics and Nashville General Hospital,” said Doug Sawyer, M.D., Ph.D., chief of the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine. “In addition, this partnership has led to other efforts focused on cardiovascular health disparities in our community.

“It is nice to get this award and recognition, but it is humbling when you look at the bigger problem. We are pleased to receive this recognition, but there is a lot more for us to do,” Sawyer said.

ABC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating cardiovascular disparities through education, research, and advocacy. Andre Williams, executive director, said a little more than 2 percent of cardiologists are African-American.

“We look at cardiology fellowship training institutions across the country with a focus on developing a diverse workforce for cardiology,” Williams said. “Vanderbilt has consistently demonstrated an effort to create a more diverse workforce,” Williams said.