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Dr. Danelle Guillory – How OnlineMedEd Can Be a Gamechanger in DEI

Danelle Guillory, MD, PhD, MPA Danelle Guillory, MD, PhD, MPA

Welcome to the OME Gamechanger Series. The overarching goal of this series is to highlight an important aspect of medical education and how OME plans to make a difference. Each month, an academic expert and member of the OME team will share how OME is connected to the bigger picture through their eyes. For this first installment, we’ll focus on the experts themselves and what inspires them about OME.

At OnlineMedEd, we believe improving patient care starts by transforming learning in and out of the classroom.  We help faculty and institutions by providing medical teaching resources that enable easier teaching, reinforcement and learning of crucial foundations so faculty can build stronger medical professionals, institutions can expand their impact, and students can transform memorization into knowledge. The result is a more empathetic and prepared generation of healthcare professionals, which has the downstream impact of improving millions of lives through great patient care.

About Me and My Role at OME

I am the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at OnlineMedEd. Every day in my role, I work to increase representation, reduce bias, and increase the feeling of belonging in health care to ultimately create better providers to improve health equity!

I’ve been working to eliminate health disparities to achieve health equity for over 15 years. My passion for this work began long before attending medical school. I didn’t have the terminology for it back then, but I knew it wasn’t fair that some of my family and members of my community had poorer health and fewer choices in health care compared to others. While in medical school, I became dedicated to improving equity as my life’s work. As a physician, I would have been changing the world one person at a time — but reimagining medical education has the potential to positively impact millions!

While in medical school, I became dedicated to improving equity as my life’s work.

As DEI champions, we do face challenges. I know how it feels to be expected to make a big impact in DEI without getting the necessary support or resources to make meaningful, sustainable change. In my current role, however, I support both faculty and learners, with a focus on ensuring that medical education content is written and evaluated through a lens of health equity. I work to encourage student and faculty engagement in DEI initiatives, assess and improve learner outcomes, and support effective approaches to teaching and learning.

What DEI Means to Me, And How It Intersects with Health Equity

Diversity is the representation of different social identities. Equity is a behavior — making sure there are policies and procedures in place for fair treatment. Inclusion is a feeling of belonging — an emotional outcome that everyone wants at their organization.

Simply put, health equity is achieved when everyone has an equal opportunity to live the healthiest life possible! Addressing health equity involves improving equity, cultural humility, representation in medicine, and increasing the sense of belonging among members of marginalized groups once they get a seat at the table. It also involves addressing both structural and social determinants of health — all those factors upstream from the health care system that impact a person’s health. So it’s bigger than just one thing — all elements of DEI must be present in order to achieve health equity.

The Importance of Increasing Representation and Health Equity in Medical Education

The bottom line is that increasing the diversity of the physician workforce positively impacts patient care. Mounting evidence suggests when physicians and patients share the same race or ethnicity, this improves time spent together, medication adherence, shared decision-making, wait times for treatment, cholesterol screening, patient understanding of cancer risk, and patient perceptions of treatment decisions.  While we are working to improve representation in medicine, which is taking considerable time, we can concurrently work to create existing providers with cultural humility.

Commonly used medical education materials lack diversity in patient cases and frequently perpetuate negative racial and ethnic stereotypes. At the individual learner level, students who are underrepresented in medicine are at greater risk of poor personal well-being, increased stress, depression, and anxiety, and they report that their race and/or ethnicity adversely affect their medical school experience.

If you’d like to learn more about evaluating educational content through a health equity lens, check out this webinar.

Why I’m Excited to Work with Institutions

I’m so excited to begin collaborating with institutions — getting to know DEI champions, learning some of their pain points, and identifying opportunities for ways OME can address those needs.

If you’re like me and want to make a collective impact on DEI in medical education, let’s connect. Click here to start a conversation.