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UW Medicine’s Office of Healthcare Equity welcomes Bessie Young, MD, MPH, as the new medical director and associate dean for Healthcare Equity.

“As an African American and health disparities researcher, I have always been interested in diversity, equity and inclusion efforts as well as health disparities and how to identify and improve outcomes for marginalized communities,” Young says. “As one of the largest departments in the UW School of Medicine, it is clear that the UW is making progress in equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) issues and efforts, but as recent events have shown us, we have a ways to go. Working in the newly formed Office of Health Care Equity with Dr. Paula Houston and her team will allow me to continue working on climate, equity and inclusion issues for the broader School of Medicine and UW Medicine so that we as an institution embrace a culture of diversity and inclusion.”

While Young may be new to this role, her roots in Washington state and at UW go deep. She grew up in Tacoma and has been part of the UW community since her undergraduate days as a chemistry major, going on to attend the UW School of Medicine, receive graduate training at the UW School of Public Health and complete her medical internship, residency and fellowship.

She has been a nephrology teacher — the first African American female professor in the Department of Medicine, she notes — since the ’90s and has mentored medical students and scientists since the 2000s. Most recently, she served as associate chair for Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Medicine.

Aside from her UW-specific credentials, Young is also an accomplished researcher who has published countless studies, received dozens of honors and awards, and contributed to textbooks, publications and editorial boards for scientific journals and medical committees across the country.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Young join the leadership of the Office of Healthcare Equity as the medical director and associate dean of Healthcare Equity. She is experienced, well rounded and highly regarded as an academic and clinician leader. Additionally, she has extensive experience advancing equity in our communities. I am truly honored to have her as a partner in leading our work to advance healthcare equity for all of our communities,” says Paula Houston, EdD, chief equity officer for the Office of Healthcare Equity.

In her new role, Young will support clinicians by providing a critical equity lens to patient care issues to improve patient experience and outcomes, with a particular focus on those in our system who are most marginalized.

She will also help improve the learning, teaching and working environment in the UW School of Medicine by being a resource to faculty, students and trainees.

“We are excited to have Dr. Young join the Office of Healthcare Equity and our medical director leadership team. Bessie brings a wealth of experience and in partnership with Paula Houston will lead our efforts to address healthcare disparities, engage the communities we serve, and aspire to becoming an inclusive learning environment across our clinical, classroom and research settings,” says Timothy Dellit, MD, chief medical officer for UW Medicine.

Young’s goals are to improve healthcare equity for our patients and communities and to make UW Medicine the leading antiracist and equitable institution in the nation. She plans on helping the healthcare equity team revisit their existing Healthcare Equity Blueprint and develop a health equity strategic plan that acknowledges the work that has been done and continues to advance EDI issues.

“I will support our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) learners, trainees and faculty, and will help to further develop community partnerships between UW Medicine/UWSOM and communities of color in our fight against COVID-19 and in our ongoing healthcare efforts,” Young says.