Matthew Taylor, MD, thoracic surgeon and Alok Dash, MD, fellow, thoracic surgeon at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, is seen in the operating room at the Medical Center in 2016, operating the Flex robot. They are pictured wearing a surgical mask and blue surgical scrubs, with the side view of another surgeon in scrubs seen to the left of the photo.

Department of Surgery

Statement on Diversity

Penn State's Department of Surgery is committed to high quality in patient care and in the education of medical students, residents and other trainees, and to maintaining an inclusive environment that fosters the development of all faculty and staff.

We believe that an emphasis on and commitment to promoting diversity, equity and inclusion is a critical component of achieving these goals.

Diversity

Diversity is ensuring a variety of perspectives are represented in order to decrease collective blind spots and maximize creative approach to problem-solving.

This can be facilitated by working to achieve a workforce that more closely resembles the diverse backgrounds of the organization's patient population with respect to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, country of origin, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status and physical ability.

Equity

Equity is ensuring access to appropriate and personalized care for all patients.

This entails listening to the experiences of learners and faculty from minoritized backgrounds to understand the unique challenges they face, and working to develop solutions to those challenges so that all have access to employment, education, leadership roles and opportunities for academic advancement.

Inclusion

Inclusion is fostering an environment that makes all individuals or groups feel welcome, respected, supported, empowered and valued for their strengths, abilities and ideas.

Commitment to Working to Combat Racism and Bias

The Department of Surgery at Penn State is dedicated to the safety of all patients, families, employees and learners.

We strive to help Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center actively fight racism and bias in the institution, community and society by supporting and developing policies and practices to eliminate health disparities, improve access to care and ensure safety and a sense of belonging for all.

The institution thus far has implemented policies outlining expectations for patients for respect for and nondiscrimination against caregiving staff - the institution will not honor requests for changes in providers based on any aspects of diversity - and zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment by employees of the institution.

We stand together in opposition to any intolerant or disrespectful behavior directed at an individual or group.

Department of Surgery Initiatives and Efforts

We recognize that the workforce at Penn State does not represent the diversity of the U.S. population.

We have heard the challenges shared by those from minoritized backgrounds at our institution and are committed to working to address those challenges and develop a more supportive workplace for all.

In 2020, the Department of Surgery convened a diversity task force to actively work to increase awareness of diversity and equity concerns and to plan actions to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the department.

Around the same time, the department named a vice chair for diversity to signify that its commitment to diversity is as strong as its commitments to education, quality and safety, and research.

The task force and the vice chair for diversity are continually working to provide:

  • education to members of the department through efforts such as diversity Grand Rounds and diversity newsletters
  • changes to policies and procedures to increase diversity in the faculty and resident workforce and better meet the needs of all of the members of the department
  • mentoring and curriculum diversification to support students from diverse backgrounds, particularly those from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine
  • improved retention of members of the workforce from diverse backgrounds by providing active mentoring, support of their academic development and research, and building a supportive and inclusive community