Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity Initiatives of the New England Section of the AUA
By: Vernon M. Pais, Jr., MD, MS | Posted on: 01 Apr 2022
It is increasingly recognized that lack of diversity, equity and inclusion disenfranchises the very differences that make us whole as a profession and as a society. We also risk silencing voices, stifling growth and missing opportunities afforded by fresh perspectives. Across medical disciplines, there has been growing recognition of the urgent need for improved efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI). Broadened DEI allows the infusion of new perspectives needed for continued growth. Urology represents a specialty that could benefit from such efforts. Data from the AUA 2020 Census reveal that overall, practicing urologists are 90.1% male and 84.8% White. As such, DEI initiatives are critically important considerations for organized urology. The AUA announced creation of its Diversity and Inclusion Task Force in April 2021.
Long before the most recent calls for an urgent need to increase DEI, the New England Section has taken a leadership role in increasing diversity, but our census data tell us we still have tremendous opportunity for growth in these efforts. Although the smallest section, we have taken large steps in gender diversity, celebrating female role models and mentors. Our board of directors has benefited tremendously from gender diversity at the leadership level. Indeed, although we have fewer than 10% women by the recent census, we take pride in being the first section to have a female secretary, then section president and also the first section to have a woman serve as our representative to the AUA Board of Directors. Our soon to be third female president has been selected.
In the broader sense of discipline diversity, we have additionally embraced the perspectives of our Advanced Practice Provider colleagues, who have been included on panels and at the planning stages of our meetings. Our upcoming section annual meeting program will also feature a 1-hour session focused on DEI, including a discussion led by Dr. Simone Thavaseelan, a New England Section member, Brown University Program Director and member of the AUA’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
As a section, it is recognized that in order to increase diversity in the ranks of urology, we need to increase diversity in those choosing to pursue a career in urology. To improve such recruitment, several training programs in our section have created funded opportunities for underrepresented minority medical students to visit for subinternships. At the section level, the New England Section will also support a Urology Care Foundation summer research fellowship for underrepresented minority students. Of course, underrepresented minorities are indeed underrepresented. Ultimately, successful efforts to improve diversity in medicine will hinge upon increasing representation. It is evident that there is a need to start far earlier, opening up medicine as a career path to students in high schools and colleges. As a more diverse pool of medical students emerges, diversity in urology and across medical specialties will follow. The New England Section is excited to be at the vanguard of these endeavors.