Students in hallway studying and walking

Health Equity

Health Equity is a constant practice at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. From curriculum to the structure of our institution, Healthy Equity is at the center of our motivations to serve communities from across the state of Washington.

Definitions of Diversity and Inclusion

  • Diversity: A range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.
  • Inclusion: The involvement and empowerment of all, where the inherent worth and dignity of people are recognized. An inclusive culture promotes and sustains a sense of belonging; it values and practices respect for talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of its members.


How the College Is Creating an Environment That Embraces and Values Differences

The faculty-led Equity Committee, guided by the WSU Strategic Plan, develops and implements the college’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Justice, and Access Policy. The policy outlines strategies to achieve a diverse, inclusive environment through many channels:

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:

  • Beliefs
  • Opinions
  • Perspectives
  • Experiences
  • Lifestyles
  • Gender
  • Sexual orientation
  • Culture
  • Race/ethnicity

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

Leadership Training

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.

Interprofessional Education

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
  • Tutoring
  • 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.

Additional Resources

Equity Committee

Creating an Environment Where Differences Are Valued, and Where Everyone Has a Chance to Succeed

Faculty, administrators, and students who serve on the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine Equity Committee seek to foster an intercampus community that is respectful, diverse and inclusive.

Mission of the Equity Committee

• Identify underrepresented populations in medicine
• Advise the dean regarding events, policies or initiatives that promote the standards set forth in the College’s Diversity Policy
• Evaluate the college’s progress in accomplishing those standards

Christopher J. Davis, PhD

Equity Committee Chair
“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.”

Lucia Peixoto, PhD

Biomedical Sciences Representative
“I am committed to creating an inclusive environment in which diverse voices are heard and valued in all aspects of our organization. Promoting equity and inclusion of people of all backgrounds is paramount to achieving excellence in our medical school. “

Naomi Chaytor, PhD

Spokane Campus Representative
“I want to help create an environment that truly values and supports diversity in all forms. This means not only allowing everyone a seat at the table, but also promoting new perspectives and ways of doing things. I am committed to continually asking myself and others how we can do better.”

Thomas May, PhD

Vancouver Campus Representative
“As medical science moves into an era of precision medicine, diversity will become central not only to our ability to do science well, but to ensure that all members of society are able to participate in the benefits of scientific discovery. I am excited to promote this vision at WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.”

Luis Manriquez, MD

Clinical Science and Medical Education Representative
“Health Equity should be our north star in medicine, incorporating equity into everything we do in the College of Medicine will help fulfill our mission to assure the conditions of optimal health for all in Washington.  The students trained at College of Medicine will lead the state and the nation in advancing health equity.”

April D. Davis, MS, RDN, CDN, ACSM-RCEP

Nutrition and Exercise Physiology Representative
“To me, diversity means continually and deliberately reminding myself to let go of societies’ lessons on the boxes people ‘fit into.’ I constantly strive to have an open mindset and value each individual’s unique attributes and contributions, which are ever-evolving.”

Dana Algeo-Nichols, PhD

Speech and Hearing Sciences Representative
“I believe that when we give others and ourselves the space to share things openly, like ideas, joy, and dignity, we all receive the power of voice and inclusion.”

Kari Mikesell

Staff Representative
“Diversity to me means embodying and cultivating an environment that allows students and colleagues the opportunity to feel heard, valued and empowered with respect.  Embracing one another’s unique perspectives, ideas and suggestions fosters continuous learning and growth.”  

Leila Harrison, PhD, MA, MEd

Ex Officio
“I am passionate about the many facets of diversity. Diversity encompasses not what others see or believe about an individual but what the individual believes, feels and identifies with themselves; the emic perspective. In this way, diversity is alive and ever-developing. It enriches all contexts from which others can grow.”

David H. Garcia, MEd

Ex Officio
“Diversity can be beautiful and powerful. Historically, diversity (differences that make a difference) has resulted in the acts of inclusion or exclusion of a people. I believe we have the opportunity to make intentional decisions and take action in alignment with our mission to ensure a full educational opportunity for all who teach and learn here in the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.”

Michaela Fallon

Medical Student Representative
“One of the main reasons I chose to attend WSU was due to their commitment to underserved communities and populations around Washington State. Now that I am here, I am driven to help foster a culture within our school that not only supports said communities and the voices they bring to the table, but celebrates them as well. To strive for diversity and inclusion is to strive for a welcoming, well rounded, and receptive environment.”

Marleny Carmona

Medical Student Representative
“As a student of a new medical school where diversity and equity are growing, I recognize the important role that students play in helping develop a culture where people feel welcome, safe and genuinely excited to be a part of. I am committed to be a part working with those who are creating this culture at Elson. S. Floyd College of Medicine for myself, my classmates and those to come after us.”

Anna Zamora-Kapoor, PhD

External Health Professions College Representative
“As a Hispanic female, an immigrant, and a non-Native speaker of English, I am well-acquainted with the concept of disadvantage. I am committed to social justice, equal opportunity, and health equity.”

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion within the College

The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine works to develop policies, procedures and programs to promote diversity and inclusion through:

  • Education
  • Research
  • Clinical care
  • Service/community partnerships

The Equity Committee forges strategies to ensure that the college promotes diversity and inclusion. It uses a continuous quality leadership process to measure and evaluate the college’s compliance and excellence in the following areas:

  • Recruitment and hiring activities
  • Admission process
  • Curriculum
  • Student support
  • Awareness and retention activities

Promoting Diversity and Inclusion in the Field of Medicine

The college’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion also include:

  • Strengthening the pathway to becoming a physician in Washington
  • Encouraging graduates of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to practice in all communities in the state

Inclusion Matrix Workgroup

In 2017, the Inclusion Matrix Workgroup (IMW) was formed to facilitate the matrix-based approach to inclusion at the College. The group is strategically comprised of varied individuals representing units across the College with the mission and vision as a central focus.

In fall of 2019, the IMW became a formal Subcommittee of the Equity Committee to ensure alignment with the Diversity & Inclusion Policy and efforts. The IMW maintained its original purpose in addition to taking on a primary goal of developing, implementing, and engaging in continuous quality improvement of a comprehensive Strategic Diversity Action Plan. This document the comprehensive Strategic Diversity Action Plan. The Plan was adopted by the College in early 2021.

Health Equity in the Curriculum

As a college we understand that health is not only found in the exam room but depends on the resources and opportunities we have in life. And we recognize that it is up to all of us to assure the conditions for people to live longer and better.

Health equity is threaded through the pre-clinical and clinical curriculum to help students define and describe health equity concepts, evaluate their impact on health, apply best practices in patient care and develop clinical, community level and policy interventions to address health inequities.

The curriculum is introduced through an orientation/early first year workshop on health equity and oppression.

Concepts are delivered in large group interactive lectures, small groups, Case-Based Learning (CBL) cases, and clinical skills sessions. Application and integration into medical practice are addressed in Longitudinal Integrated Clerkships (LIC) clinical didactics and required and elective clinical/non-clinical rotations. Additionally, the basic sciences and CBL cases are evaluated to incorporate representation, diversity, social determinants of health and equity and to minimize harmful biases in medical education and reinforce health equity concepts.