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“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now … This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”   

— Martin Luther King Jr.


Dear Colleagues:

Each year, around the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, I take time to reflect on our efforts to honor the words and teachings of this great man and how we’re working to put them into practice at UW Medicine.

Are we identifying and addressing inequities in our healthcare practices and in the experiences of our workforce? Are we creating an environment of equity, diversity and inclusion in our offices, patient rooms, research labs and classrooms? Are we truly effecting change? Are we doing what we say we will do?

Looking back at 2018, I believe we’ve taken meaningful steps, in new ways, while continuing to support and expand valuable work already underway.

In addition to launching a healthcare equity action plan, UW Medicine took the unprecedented step of hiring a dedicated team to drive healthcare equity efforts in our hospitals, clinics and shared services. The team includes Dr. Paula Houston, director of healthcare equity, Dr. Pat Dawson, medical director for healthcare equity, and Keith Vensey, program operations specialist.

They have committed themselves to advancing the goals of the Healthcare Equity Blueprint, a landmark document that provides a strategic roadmap for improving equity, diversity and inclusion at UW Medicine. In their first year, this team has made remarkable progress.

    • Since improving healthcare equity starts with educating ourselves, the team developed and delivered training to more than 2,000 administrative and clinical leaders — and counting. They have also facilitated the formation of new equity, diversity and inclusion committees at each of UW Medicine’s organizations to drive local, grass-roots activity and engagement.


    • Recognizing that community outreach is vitally important to increasing our understanding of health disparities, the team held its first Community Conversations to hear people’s perceptions of and experiences with healthcare and the UW Medicine system.


    • The team has also worked with our healthcare professionals to launch clinical improvement projects that better meet the needs of underserved populations. Projects range from diabetic retinopathy screening to training programs focused on the patient experience and healthcare needs of transgender gender non-binary patients.


The UW School of Medicine has also made significant strides this year through its Center for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (CEDI), led by Dr. Leo Morales, chief diversity officer. CEDI delivered training, offered focused curriculum courses and participated in a variety of recruitment efforts designed to increase the diversity of School of Medicine faculty and students.

    • To date, nearly 750 people throughout the School have completed an implicit bias module, with a measurable increase in bias awareness among those completing it. CEDI also helped enhance the medical school curriculum with an elective course on African-American health and healthcare disparities.


    • Outreach was a priority for CEDI this year, including a pilot program to help mentor and prepare prospective Hispanic/LatinX students to apply and interview for medical school; workshops for minority and underrepresented undergraduates and community college students on how to prepare for and apply to medical school; and the Doctor for a Day program, which gives disadvantaged and underrepresented youth the opportunity to engage with medical students, residents, fellows and faculty to learn what it’s like to be a physician.


    • In addition to recruiting individuals from underrepresented backgrounds for leadership and faculty roles, the School is revising its faculty appointment and promotion criteria to recognize and reward faculty contributions to scholarship, teaching, research and service related to diversity and equity. This will provide equity in the appointments and promotions process for faculty engaged in diversity and equity initiatives.


While we have made considerable progress, we still have much to do on our journey toward true equity, diversity and inclusion. Every one of us has the power to make change, and I invite you to join me in learning more and getting involved. You can find information on these programs along with tools and resources on the Healthcare Equity and CEDI websites.

UW Medicine’s mission to improve the health of the public means ensuring that everyone has equitable access to the highest-quality healthcare and to educational opportunities to become the healthcare professionals of the future. Together, I believe we can make that happen. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do right.”

Thank you for all you do to support our mission every day.


Paul G. Ramsey, M.D.

CEO, UW Medicine

Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and

Dean of the School of Medicine,

University of Washington


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