We are fortunate to live and work in Los Angeles, a vibrant city with a rich history of diversity and activism. Our department embraces this environment and continues the pursuit of equity and inclusion as part of UCLA Health. We are committed to addressing disparities in health care.
We are aligned with campus leadership in our goal to recruit and retain individuals traditionally under-represented in health sciences. We hope for everyone in our workforce and training programs to experience a professional, supportive, and collaborative environment, where they can thrive and pursue their goals.
In July 2020, we welcomed a new Vice Chair for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, Jennifer Lucero, MD, MA, who also holds the position of Associate Dean for Admissions at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM). As a physician of Mexican and Native American descent and an obstetric anesthesiologist, she takes a special interest in diversity issues in medicine, and disparities in the delivery of obstetric healthcare to women of color.
Faculty and residents during spring, 2020
Even before the horrifying events of 2020, our department recognized what faculty member Robert Eldridge, MD, has referred to rightly as “historical shortcomings”, and made a firm commitment to improve.
In 2017, we began an ongoing partnership with the California Society of Anesthesiologists (CSA) to provide outreach to Los Angeles public high school students, with our residents visiting classrooms to talk about healthcare careers, and the students visiting UCLA research laboratories and the Simulation Center. This summer we celebrated with CSA on winning a special recognition award from ASA for this outreach program. Read more here.
During the spring of 2020, a group of our faculty and residents formed the nucleus of a new department committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI). Our Vice Chair for Education, Judi Turner MD, PhD, writing in the summer issue of our e-magazine, Open Circuit, described the department’s sorrow and swift reaction after the tragic murder of George Floyd:
“Our DAPM [Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Medicine] residents and faculty participated in protests, including the moving Los Angeles-wide event, “Healthcare Workers for Black Lives Matter”, on June 5. On June 17, residents led a discussion about racial injustice and shared their own stories following a showing of “13th”, a documentary film about how the abolition of slavery led to new forms of injustice with the criminalization and segregation by race that followed. Many residents said that it was the most impactful experience of their medical training.”
Outreach to LA public high schools: Dr. Sophia Poorsattar demonstrates ultrasound
Resident Lyndsey Bradley leads discussion and screening of Ava DuVernay film, 13th
Faculty and residents participate in UCLA protest against racial injustice
Beyond UCLA, our Vice Chair Dan Cole, MD, FASA, chaired a panel discussion at the ASA annual meeting in October 2020 on the topic of “Diversity in the Physician Scientist Workforce: Now and in the Future”. A past president of ASA and a board member of the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER), Dr. Cole is the 2020 nominee for the ASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.
Patricia Nwajuaku, MD, MPH, and Dr. Lucero are members of the ASA Committee on Professional Diversity, and Rana Movahedi, MD, is a member of the ASA Committee on Women in Anesthesiology. CA-3 resident Mariam Sarwary, MD, chairs the CSA Committee on Resident Representation.
“Academic medicine in the United States has seen many advances and great leaders,” Dr. Lucero says, but many communities haven’t been able to share in these opportunities. “We have the best medical care in the world for those who can afford it, rather than the best care for all who need it. UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine have made a commitment to change this for California and beyond.”
Star medical student researcher Varina Clark, right, with mentor Soban Umar, MD, PhD
The new Committee on EDI includes faculty members, residents, nurse anesthetists, and staff members, and now contains five different working groups to focus on the topics of education, recruitment, retention, career development, and research.*
Dr. Lucero explains:
“As UCLA Health and DGSOM are embarking on a robust program to work toward social justice and implementing plans to combat structural racism, we are partnering alongside as a proud member of the community within UCLA, as a member of the community of Los Angeles, and as an academic department at an elite institution within California. Our vision is to provide the best care to all who need it in an environment which is equitable, diverse, and inclusive to those who work and learn within UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine.”
For more information about EDI resources at UCLA, please explore these links:
Dr. William McDade, Chief Officer for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the ACGME, gave an inspiring Grand Rounds presentation recently on how GME can reduce healthcare disparities and lead to better patient outcomes from the efforts of a workforce that believes in and works toward health equity. Read more here.
*The members of our Committee on EDI Working Groups:
Ana Armenta, MSN, CRNA - Nurse Anesthetist
Samrawit Abraha, MD - Resident
Jamilla Churchill, MSN, MPH, CRNA - Nurse Anesthetist
Lydiesther Martinez, MD - Resident
Cristianna Vallera, MD - Faculty
Lucelva Mendez - Administrative Staff
Quenesha Caballero - Administrative Staff
Olivia Vallejo - Administrative Staff
Zarah Antongiorgi, MD - Faculty
Johanna Schwarzenberger, MD - Faculty
Carol Lee, RN - Allied Professional
Patricia Nwajuaku, MD, MPH - Faculty
Susana Vacas, MD, PhD - Faculty
Stephanie Fisher, MA - Chief Administrative Officer
Daniel Cole, MD, FASA - Faculty
Bhaswati Roy, PhD - Post Doctoral Fellow
Marisa Hernandez-Morgan, MD, MPP - Faculty
Robert Eldridge, MD - Faculty
Judi Turner, MD, PhD - Faculty
Emily Nasser, MD - Resident
Yue Ming Huang, EdD, MHS - Faculty
Cecilia Canales, MD, MPH - Resident
Brittany Burton, MD, MAS, MHS - Resident
Claudia Bueno - Administrative Staff
Christine Nguyen-Buckley, MD - Faculty
Rajesh Kumar, PhD - Faculty
Reza Borna, MD - Faculty
Tiffany Williams, MD, PhD - Faculty