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 Justice, 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 Chicana physician 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.
Our commitment to progress
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 Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI). 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.”
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.
Vision for JEDI
“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.”
The new Committee on JEDI 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 JEDI 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 JEDI Working Groups:
Ana Armenta, MSN, CRNA - Nurse Anesthetist
Jamilla Churchill, MSN, MPH, CRNA - Nurse Anesthetist
Lucelva Mendez - Administrative Staff
Bradley Reid, MD - Faculty
Cristianna Vallera, MD - Faculty
Zarah Antongiorgi, MD - Faculty Physician
Quenesha Caballero - Administrative Staff
Carol Lee, RN - Allied Health Professional
John Patton, MD - Faculty Physician
Olivia Vallejo - Administrative Staff
Daniel Cole, MD, FASA - Faculty Physician
Stephanie Fisher, MA - Chief Administrative Officer
Patricia Nwajuaku, MD, MPH - Faculty Physician
Bhaswati Roy, PhD - Post-Doctoral Fellow
Robert Whittington, MD - Faculty Physician
Marisa Hernandez-Morgan, MD, MPP - Faculty Physician
Robert Eldridge, MD - Faculty Physician
Judi Turner, MD, PhD - Faculty Physician
Emily Nasser, MD - Resident Physician
Yue Ming Huang, EdD, MHS - Faculty Physician
Betelehem Asnake, MD, MS - Faculty Physician
Jason Lee, MD - Faculty Physician
Reza Borna, MD - Faculty Physician
Brittany Burton, MD, MAS, MHS - Resident Physician
Claudia Bueno - Administrative Staff
Cecilia Canales, MD, MPH - Faculty Physician
Rajesh Kumar, PhD - Faculty Physician
Christine Nguyen-Buckley, MD - Faculty Physician
Tiffany Williams, MD, PhD - Faculty Physician