To increase the diversity of our faculty and residency program, support programs and research initiatives aimed at eradicating disparity, and create an equitable environment where surgeons, trainees, and patients of all backgrounds are valued and welcomed.
The UCLA Department of Surgery Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee is led by Juan Carlos Jimenez, MD, MBA, FACS, Clinical Professor of Surgery, Division of Vascular Surgery and Vice Chair of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.
Members include: Laura Baybridge, Kevin Blair II, Mariah Blegen, Andrea Cracchiolo III, Timothy R. Donahue, Sarah Gilyard, Avital Harari, O. Joe Hines, Langston T. Holly, Harriet H. Huston-Paterson, Reza Jarrahy, Juan C. Jimenez, Catherine Juillard, Ukarjit Kaur, Amanda N. Labora, Yang Lu, David Machado-Aranda, Melinda Maggard Gibbons, Michael Mederos, Sonam Mehta, Cianna Miller, Jessica B. O'Connell, Rasheedat A. Oke, Chi C. Quach, Jordan Rook, Tara A. Russell, Daniela A. Salinas, Ronnie Sullins, Carlie Thompson, Areti Tillou, Jesus Ulloa, Justin Wagner, James Wu.
The JEDI Committee is currently working on fostering professional and leadership opportunities, as well as ensuring members of the department have the proper academic support and wellness resources. In addition to the cultivation of a positive climate, the JEDI Committee has worked with the University Staff and Faculty counseling center regarding special office hours to help accommodate surgeon specific schedules, and safe places for discussion.
In specific Dr. Ronnie Sullins' role as the department's Faculty Wellness Officer and the partnership she has formed with The Society of Black Academic Surgeons has provided valuable leadership opportunities within the community.
Dr. Avital Harari has led an effort to develop formal recruitment and retention policies and procedures aimed to streamline and standardize policies to increased diversity within the department. The department-specific recruitment document has been operationalized and is integrated with the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA Academic Personnel Office policies for recruitment and retention.
Professional Development and Education
The JEDI Committee has worked diligently to ensure that the department is incorporating the education of implicit bias and microaggressions to understand how harmful they can be to the community. In correlation through Grand Rounds and other opportunities, we are working to establish formal JEDI training in the department.
The Department of Surgery is currently working to expand mentorship for junior faculty specific to the JEDI Committee. This is enhanced by Dr. Jimenez's membership on the David Geffen School of Medicine JAM Council, where he serves as a mentor.
Pre-Med Summer Scholar Program
One of the community outreach programs that works in conjunction with the JEDI Committee is the Pre-Med Summer Scholar Program led by Dr. Areti Tillou. The work of the Pre-Med Summer Scholar Program has expanded over the past year to approximately 150 students and emphasizes the recruitment of students from disadvantaged communities. The program helps connect high school students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds with resources to expand their interest in the field of medicine. Through the support of the Dean's office and fundraising efforts, financial aid was provided to support these students interests this past year.
The Pre-Med Summer Scholar Program is in collaboration with the Center for Advanced Surgical & Interventional Technology (CASIT). The 5-day program for high school students age 16-18 allows them to practice surgical skills in the state-of-the-art CASIT robotics lab, partake in a simulated birth, talk with physicians about the next steps in their education and much more.
Guatemalan Missionary Work
With the work of Dr. Reza Jarrahy of Plastic Surgery and Dr. Paul Schmit of General Surgery, UCLA Health was able to provide life-changing care in Guatemala. Their multidisciplinary team was a partnership across the UCLA Health system that included members of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine. Dr. Jarrahy has led the trip for many years but this particular trip marks the first time a multidisciplinary team was able to bring world class surgical care to children in Guatemala. With the collaborative work of the UCLA Health surgeons, doctors and nurses depicted below, they were able to complete more than 50 procedures in the Guatemalan village of Nuevo Progreso.
Access to equitable surgical care is a priority for the department and UCLA Health. Our aim is to understand the causes of surgery health disparities and develop solutions to improve access and care. The department and faculty are actively working to establish and expand programs for the community, particularly those most vulnerable patients and populations.
In conjunction with the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma, the UCLA Department of Surgery has spearheaded the Trauma Informed Care Curriculum, and is serving as a pilot site for this training program. The Trauma Informed Care Curriculum works to educate trauma center personnel and hospital administration on the basics of Trauma Informed Care. This curriculum has an emphasis on the understanding of responsiveness to the impact of trauma as well as, psychological and emotional safety for both providers and trauma patients. The JEDI Committee utilizes the Trauma Informed Care Curriculum to provide opportunities for rebuilding personal regrowth and empowerment following trauma. Dr. Areti Tillou is currently serving as the Chief of Trauma for the Department of Surgery. Learn more here.
Dr. Revels' Lung Cancer Study
Dr. Sha'shonda Revels assistant professor at the UCLA Division of Thoracic Surgery, specializes in cancer surgery. With Dr. Revels' specialization and a passion for providing equitable healthcare, she focuses on creating a better awareness about lung cancer screening in Black and Latino communities. Dr. Revels is working on what she calls a "reverse study" that is funded by UCLA's Center for Health Improvement of Minority Elders (CHIME) and is conducted at Harbor UCLA Medical Center. She expresses that her reverse study is "a human-centered design study where we put people first and ask them directly about their challenges."
Partnering with community organizations, such as the Celebrate Life Cancer Ministry in South Los Angeles, the study team has conducted phone interviews with Black and Latino patients to ask about barriers and challenges they encounter in finding quality healthcare. For example, many in these communities do not know that lung cancer screening is available. The study aims to use this data to develop interventions to help ensure a better healthcare experience for all members of the community. Learn more here on the great work being done by Dr. Revels.
Research In Action
Dr. Catherine Juillard leads the NIH funded Program for the Advancement of Surgical Equity (PASE). Through the PASE Program the department is able to expand their scholarly work and global health initiatives. Their mission is to develop long term partnerships with local and international organizations and institutions to identify opportunities to improve access and delivery of surgical care through program development, research and education.
In collaboration with PASE, Dr. Jesus Ulloa works to identify obstacles that affect access to surgical services and their disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities. Being able to identify the obstacles assists in the process of developing proper solutions to help shape policies for timely access to surgical services when needed for all residents of California.