Policy & programs
The faculty-led Equity Committee, guided by the WSU Strategic Plan, develops and implements the College’s diversity and inclusion policy (pdf). The policy outlines strategies to achieve a diverse, inclusive environment through many channels:
“I am passionate about continuing to cultivate a culturally competent community and being a part of that community not by assimilation, but by respecting, appreciating and celebrating the uniqueness of individuals.”
—Christopher J. Davis, Ph.D., Equity Committee Chair
The College recruits and works to retain faculty and staff from a variety of backgrounds. To provide an educational environment that respects diverse ideas, cultures, and people, it welcomes differences in:
- Sexual orientation
Recruitment and hiring
The Equity Committee has adopted best practices and guidelines for search committees to use during recruitment and hiring processes. They aim to attract a talented and diverse applicant pool, reduce unconscious or implicit bias in ratings and recommendations, and promote diversity and inclusion in hiring.
Monitoring internal climate
An annual climate survey of faculty, staff and students measures outcomes.
As part of its commitment to diversity, the College recruits first-generation students who are often financially disadvantaged. It identifies financial resources to mitigate the cost of medical education for students. The Student Scholarship Committee establishes procedures and criteria to award College-directed scholarships.
The process of selecting medical school students conforms to Washington state law (RCW 49.60.400), which prohibits discrimination against or preferential treatment for any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.
The College has adopted a holistic set of selection criteria for MD students. These criteria reflect the College’s mission: To educate physicians who will serve Washington communities in rural and underserved areas. The selection criteria ensure that the student body is broadly diverse in the context of federal and state law.
Balanced review of candidates
The Admissions Committee balances the importance of grade-point average and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores with consideration of an applicant’s life experiences, personal attributes, and academic metrics.
Interviews that focus on soft skills
The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format yields an aggregated score of each applicant’s “soft skills”—including interpersonal skills, professionalism, and ethical judgment.
The medical education curriculum explores health disparities that disproportionately impact diverse populations. It addresses the following issues:
- health disparities
- population health
- social determinants of health
- cultural competency/linguistic competence
- unconscious/implicit bias
Medical students have the opportunity to earn a leadership certificate through training that spans the four-year curriculum. At its core, this program is about problem-solving. It prepares graduates to deliver quality health care in the face of scarce resources. It shows them how to work as part of a team, engage peers, and build synergies among different personalities. It gives tomorrow’s physicians the tools to advocate for their patients, bring about positive change, and address health disparities prevalent in rural and underserved communities.
Students train in teams that span the fields of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and more. This collaborative approach produces physicians who are more likely to show respect and positive attitudes toward fellow professionals and work to improve patient outcomes. They learn the importance of delivering culturally appropriate care with humility.
Diversity among mentors, peers, and community members
In the College’s dispersed model of medical education, students learn at clinical sites across the state, many with diverse populations. These experiences enrich the education of medical students.
Support services help students from first-generation or disadvantaged backgrounds successfully transition to and succeed in the medical education program. Services that promote retention include:
- Academic advising
- Practice exams
- Financial aid
- Peer-to-peer mentoring program
In addition, the College is raising funds to build extracurricular programs and activities, as well as scholarship funds, to retain a diverse class.
The College offers faculty and staff members professional development programs that focus on diversity, inclusion, implicit bias, health disparities, and cultural competence. Workshops are offered in person and online.
Enrichment programs encourage the College community to embrace diversity in the faculty. These programs enable the community to recognize inherent bias. They help faculty members feel supported and accepted in the working environment.
The College’s awareness activities are conducted in collaboration with the WSU Spokane Health Sciences Center.