Three Penn State College of Medicine students are seen sitting in an outdoor courtyard in fall 2019, laughing together. A laptop is open on a table in front of them.

Diversity, Equity and Belonging

Focus on Measurable Outcomes: Penn State College of Medicine Advancing Diversity and Inclusion

In 2020, Penn State College of Medicine began developing its strategic plan that includes diversity and inclusion. In addition to its plan, Penn State College of Medicine is committed to key areas that support its commitment.

Communicating Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

We strive to increase awareness of our commitment to diversity and inclusion within our workforce, student population, patient population and the local community. The College of Medicine website's diversity section will provide information about our diversity and inclusion efforts for prospective students and employees, patients and their families, and the local/surrounding community.

Achieving "Best in Class" Status in Advancing Respect and Inclusion

Penn State College of Medicine is committed to being "best in class" in creating a respectful and inclusive educational, employment and patient care environment. To understand how the college and its academic medical center, Penn State Health Hershey S. Medical Center, compares with other similar organizations in its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the organization engages in benchmarking efforts, such as Insight Into Diversity, DiversityInc, Best for Vets and the Human Rights Campaign’s Health Equality Index. In 2016, Penn State College of Medicine was one of 31 academic medical centers and medical colleges recognized with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. This recognition has continued each year since that time.

In addition, also in 2016, the College's former Dean, Craig Hillemeier, was one of the nation's leaders recognized by Insight into Diversity for his commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion and was also recognized by the local Chamber of Commerce as a diversity champion.

Increasing the Diversity of Our Student Population

As the nation's population becomes more diverse, our goal is for our students to reflect the diversity of our nation and for these students to provide extraordinary medical care, including in underserved communities.

In 2014, several medical college students across the nation engaged in an advocacy role to address diversity and health care disparities. This advocacy strategy, White Coats for Black Lives, challenged medical colleges to enroll medical school classes with 31 percent under-represented populations: Hispanic/Latino, African American and Native American. The strategy also called for taking steps to address health care disparities that are based on aspects of diversity.

Penn State College of Medicine supports the goals outlined in the White Coats initiative and is therefore striving to increase the diversity of all of its student populations to reflect national demographics. The College's overall student population, including students in the MD programs, MD/PhD Medical Scientist Training Program, PhD programs, master's programs, Physician Assistant program and Public Health programs, as of Fall 2016, is 53 percent female and 23 percent populations from Asian, African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American/Pacific Islander, and multi-race populations, including 8 percent in the MD programs and MD/PhD program identified as underrepresented minorities.

Increasing the Diversity of Our Workforce

As the national population and our local patient population continues to diversify, we are equally committed to hiring a workforce that reflects the increasing diversity.

Overall, the Hershey campus workforce, as of 2017, is 72 percent female and 18 percent minority populations. This compares with 72 percent female and 10 percent minority populations 10 years ago.

Throughout the organization, Penn State College of Medicine is committed to increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities and those with military service backgrounds within our workforce.

Currently, the workforce includes 0.9 percent individuals with disabilities and 1.9 percent individuals who are military veterans.

Increasing the Cultural Knowledge of Our Students and Workforce

Understanding the needs of patients from different cultures and backgrounds increases our ability to provide extraordinary patient care. As a result, Penn State College of Medicine is taking steps to increase the cultural knowledge of students and workforce.

All employees have access to an online informational program titled CultureVision. This resource provides general characteristics and background information on more than 150 cultures, including different racial/ethnic backgrounds, those with military service, individuals with disabilities, lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender patients, and patients from different religions or faiths.

The organization has also instituted the Inclusion Academy, a comprehensive set of workshops on different aspects of diversity that are designed to increase the cultural knowledge base of our care providers and prospective care providers (students and residents), as well as the workforce in general. Workshops that focus on improving the care of patients are eligible for American Medical Association Continuing Medical Education credits.

In January 2017, after Penn State University launched its "All In at Penn State: A Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion," Penn State College of Medicine initiated its own "All In" effort that included a pledge from current students demonstrating their commitment to advancing a respectful environment. An opportunity to be part of this pledge was extended to the entering class of 2017 who also signed on as has each class since that time.

Providing Care for Underserved Populations and Addressing Health Disparities Due to Aspects of Diversity

Penn State College of Medicine, and its affiliated health system, Penn State Health, are committed to provide extraordinary care to all populations. As part of that commitment, we are identifying ways to reduce health care disparities that are based on aspects of diversity. One strategy that we are aggressively pursuing is increasing the diversity of participants in our clinical trials and research.

Increasing Penn State College of Medicine’s Usage of Diverse Businesses and Vendors

One aspect of being an effective community member is utilizing local diverse businesses. This initiative is based on the recognition that a supplier diversity can have a positive economic impact on the local community as well as drive innovation, increase healthy competition between suppliers, and open new supply channels. As a result, Penn State College of Medicine is following Penn State University in implementing a strategy to increase the utilization of businesses owned by women, racial/ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, veterans and members of the LGBT community. This strategy includes encouraging our direct business providers to also use diverse businesses.