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Category: Health Magazine, Winter 2024

Title:Contributing to a culture of belonging among students

All three Georgetown health and health sciences schools and its biomedical graduate education programs are focused on cura personalis with programs that prioritize respect, inclusion, and belonging.

Since 2016, Melicia Escobar and Christina X. Marea, professors in the Nurse-Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner programs, have been working with their School of Nursing colleagues to identify opportunities to advance the school’s values of social justice and health equity within the various programs’ curricula.

“We found that while our students could really easily master most clinical hard skills, what they struggled with were the patient-centered skills in the face of difference, be it race, ethnicity, weight, and/or any other personally held biases,” explains Escobar. “So my colleagues and I aimed to design a curriculum wherein structural competency and an understanding of intersectionality-informed, patient-centered care is no longer considered a soft skill, but rather a core competency for all learners.”

The curriculum revision and realignment is supported by the RADIANCE (respect, advocacy, diversity, inclusion, anti-racism, collaboration, and equity) grant program, developed by the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs at Georgetown University Medical Center.

“This is an exciting time for our faculty,” explains School of Nursing Dean Roberta Waite. “We are developing inclusive pedagogy competencies and examining our courses, classroom activities, curricula, and assessments to factor in diversity and inclusivity in ways that will engage all students in learning that is meaningful, relevant, and accessible.”

At the School of Medicine, the Racial Justice Committee for Change (RJCC) is co-led by faculty, staff, and students. Formed in 2020, the group recently recommended longitudinal curricular threads focused on health equity and antiracism. Faculty development ideas included a curriculum bias checklist tool to ensure that classes promote inclusivity.

The School of Medicine’s Committee on Medical Education also recently voted for a continuation of pass/fail clerkship grading for the next two academic years. The decision is part of an ongoing effort to foster an equitable learning environment, including assessments that are fair for all students.

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