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WVU Hosts Conversations on Diversity with Dr. Charles Terrell

Dr. Charles Terrell, Vice President for Diversity Policy and Minority Programs for the Association of American Medical Colleges, led a series of conversations on diversity at West Virginia University in February. Students and faculty from the WVU School of Dentistry, along with the three other colleges in the University’s Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center, explored a number of diversity topics ranging from workforce diversity to under-represented minority student recruitment and holistic admissions policies. 

Dr. Terrell, a nationally renowned expert on health professions diversity, started his day on campus meeting with a multidisciplinary student focus group that included class officers and under-represented minority students from each health professions school.  Students from diverse geographic locations – including Ghana and Puerto Rico as well as rural West Virginia – brought a vibrant voice to diversity topics by asking provocative questions and sharing ingenious perspectives on diversity in their classes and what it means to the future of health care delivery and access. 

The session won student kudos and fueled interest in helping to improve diversity in health professions.  A first-year dental student remarked, “After attending the meeting I realized that I have a great responsibility on my hands.  I have the advantage of reaching and helping a more diverse group of people.  I got really excited when I realized this fact.” 
The student conversation yielded intensified interest in taking active roles in promoting health professions diversity.  Another student in the School of Dentistry commented, “The session makes me more aware of my surroundings and inspires me to help others of a different race, country or community become more involved and interested in health care professions.”
Additional small group sessions included a leadership roundtable and focus group meeting with admissions and curriculum deans.  A centerpiece of the day occurred at the noon hour when faculty, students, and staff from the Schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy assembled for Dr. Terrell’s Grand Rounds presentation, “Enhancing Diversity in the Health Professions: The Right Thing to Do.  The Smart Thing to Do.” Echoing the program theme, Dr. Terrell discussed health care workforce diversity and organizational strategies to promote diversity while underscoring the relationship between the right things to do and the smart things to do to enhance diversity. 

Dr. Terrell’s visit reinforced West Virginia University’s institutional commitment to diversity. His expertise helped launch substantive interdisciplinary dialogue on the critical issue of diversity in health professions. 


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