FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

By: Michael T. Sheppard, CPA, CAE | Posted on: 01 Jul 2022

The AUA continues its ongoing focus on and prioritization of diversity. The AUA and Urology Care Foundation (UCF) Boards of Directors and staff are committed to working with our membership to advance diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)-related efforts.

The AUA announced the formation of a Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Task Force in December 2020. This group was charged with developing actionable recommendations for the Board by February 2022. The Task Force surveyed all AUA Sections and numerous stakeholder groups. Based on their feedback, the D&I Task Force presented recommendations to the Board in 5 focus areas: Just and Inclusive Environment; Diversity in the Workplace; Structural Competence; Advocacy; and Research. A key outcome of the Task Force’s recommendations is the establishment, by AUA bylaws, of a formal AUA D&I Committee. This Committee will advise the Board and AUA leadership on DEI issues and initiatives. The physician chair of the D&I Committee will hold the position of AUA Chief Diversity Officer.

Beyond the D&I Task Force’s directives, I’d like to review some of the programmatic areas AUA and UCF, its Boards, Councils, Committees and staff continue to implement daily as part of our commitment to being a global leader in advancing DEI within urology.

UCF Patient Education Council and Committee

The UCF Patient Education Council and Committee target a diverse audience including underserved and vulnerable populations. The Foundation’s vast library of educational offerings represents multiple ethnicities, ages and genders as well as condition areas and patient groups. The Foundation is committed to releasing its information in multiple formats to appeal to the various ways people consume information by offering patient education as detailed web articles and patient guides, as concise fact sheets and care blogs as well as multimedia formats, such as podcasts and videos. In 2021, the Foundation reached diverse audiences with many of our patient education materials, including health checklist bundles intended for Black men and women. In 2022, we are developing a new checklist bundle for Latinx men.

The Foundation team continues to ensure materials are linguistically appropriate and culturally competent, reflective of the global populations we serve. We continue to strive to increase visibility and awareness of our patient education through translations to extend global accessibility. Currently, the Foundation offers translations in 8 languages in addition to English, including Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Hindi, Italian, Punjabi, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese. In 2022, the Foundation began the last year of the 3-year plan to translate a majority of its patient education library into Spanish. Since March of this year, UrologyHealth.org now features a Spanish translations resource center featuring Spanish patient education materials, including videos and A-to-Z condition articles.

In collaboration with the AUA Communications team, the UCF leverages social media and digital communications platforms to celebrate various D&I-related months, weeks and days of the year. Involvement in these projects was extended to the AUA D&I Task Force, the UCF D&I Task Force and members of the Foundation’s Public Education Council, with vital support from compassionate industry partners. Early analytics of our digital platforms are promising, exhibited by the popularity of the Spanish versions of our top viewed YouTube videos in recent months.

“The Foundation is committed to releasing its information in multiple formats to appeal to the various ways people consume information by offering patient education as detailed web articles and patient guides, as concise fact sheets and care blogs as well as multimedia formats, such as podcasts and videos.”

The Foundation’s strides in the area of D&I are reflected in its leadership as well. Last month, the Public Education Council welcomed 6 new members and has already established the UCF’s first female Chair-elect, Dr. Courtney Rowe. All of the Public Education Council’s leadership is selected with diversity as a priority, reflecting gender, race, specialty area, geographic location and professional experience or tenure.

Research

In early 2021, AUA launched the Leadership in Education, Achievement and Diversity (LEAD) Program, supported by UCF and Urovant Sciences. The LEAD Program supports three urology residents per year from racial and ethnic backgrounds who are underrepresented in urological research. The residents conduct mentored research, engage in AUA research education opportunities and attend networking events as they develop successful research careers.

Similarly, in May 2022, the Urology Care Foundation, in collaboration with Boston Scientific Corporation, launched the Boston Scientific Medical Student Innovation Fellowship Award. This award supports the education of medical students from racial and ethnic backgrounds underrepresented in urological research who would like to invest 1 year during medical school to engage in innovative research training under a mentor urologist and gain exposure to research in the field of urology.

Public Policy and Advocacy

AUA’s Prostate Cancer Impact Alliance consists of more than 25 prostate cancer patient groups and subspecialty organizations. Utilizing health inequities as a major pillar of its agenda, diversity and health equity will be a primary focus for the group’s future projects such as prostate cancer awareness month, patient physician communications and clinical trial education. In May 2021, the Prostate Cancer Impact Alliance welcomed the R. Frank Jones Urological Society into its membership.

The Annual Urology Advocacy Summit Planning Advisory Committee works with the R. Frank Jones Urological Society and various stakeholders to identify key crossover advocacy areas to feature on the Summit agenda each year. This year’s attendees urged legislators to cosponsor the DIVERSE Trials Act (H.R.5030 and S.2706), which would require the Department of Health and Human Services to create guidance on the use of decentralized trials to increase trial diversity.

“In collaboration with the AUA Communications team, the UCF leverages social media and digital communications platforms to celebrate various D&I-related months, weeks and days of the year.”

Publications

AUANews Editor-in-Chief, Dr. John Denstedt, in collaboration with Dr. Tracy M. Downs, AUA D&I Task Force Chair, invited and published articles on various D&I-related topics and focus editions in April 2021 and 2022. This year’s issue, “Celebrating Diversity with the AUA,” included 40 DEI-focused articles and expanded to include a global perspective. Dr. Denstedt and his Editorial Board are focused on inviting diversity-related topics throughout the year.

Dr. Robert Siemens, The Journal of Urology® Editor-in-Chief, initiated open peer review to promote transparency and inclusivity in the peer review process. He also extended the Editorial Board to include Early Career Editors and to involve more international members.

All Editorial Committee members for Urology Practice® are selected based on diversity across subspecialty, age, gender, geographic location and race/ethnicity under leadership from its Editor-in-Chief, Dr. J. Stephen Jones.

Office of Education

The AUA and UCF created an awareness campaign and series of educational activities that addressed disparities in prostate cancer care. The AUA developed a series of educational offerings designed to increase the urologist’s engagement in shared decision making and how to implement it in their clinical practice, particularly in underserved communities.

Seven webinars, webcasts or podcasts were offered in 2021. In addition to producing 4 additional podcasts this year, the Office of Education offered an instructional course at AUA2022 titled “Diversity Equity and Inclusion in Urology, What Do We Need to Know?”

Human Resources

Our Human Resources Department has engaged in several initiatives aimed at recruiting candidates, the selection process itself and employee retention. We have expanded our recruitment sites to target diverse candidates. Furthermore, we have initiated an ongoing and thorough review of position descriptions and job postings for biased language.

“The AUA developed a series of educational offerings designed to increase the urologist’s engagement in shared decision making and how to implement it in their clinical practice, particularly in underserved communities.”

A more structured interview process free of unintentional bias, combined with additional training of hiring managers when necessary, ensures AUA’s candidate selection process meets industry expectations. For our current staff, we continue to foster an inclusive workplace culture and provide equitable access to all resources, including learning and development opportunities.

This article provides only a summation of the programmatic strides in DEI the AUA and UCF have taken. We acknowledge the significant journey ahead of us as we continue to learn about the differences among us and respond with compassion to a diverse urological community with accountability and quantifiable outcomes. We look forward to your continued involvement with and feedback on these ongoing efforts.

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