Improving Diversity Through Strategic Planning

The Medical University of South Carolina launched a systematic plan to infuse diversity among its students, resident physicians, and faculty in 2002. The dean and stakeholders of the College of Medicine (COM) embraced the concept that a more population-representative physician workforce could contribute to the goals of providing quality medical education and addressing health care disparities in South Carolina. Diversity became a central component of the COM’s strategic plan, and all departments developed diversity plans consistent with the overarching plan of the COM. Liaisons from the COM diversity committee facilitated the development of the department’s diversity plans. By 2011, the efforts resulted in a doubling of the number of underrepresented-in-medicine (URM, defined as African American, Latino, Native American) students (21% of student body); matriculation of 10 African American males as first-year medical students annually for four consecutive years; more than a threefold increase in URM residents/fellows; expansion of pipeline programs; expansion of mentoring programs; almost twice as many URM faculty; integration of cultural competency throughout the medical school curriculum; advancement of women and URM individuals into leadership positions; and enhanced learning for individuals from all backgrounds. This article reports the implementation of an institutional plan to create a more racially representative workforce across the academic continuum. The authors emphasize the role of the stakeholders in promoting diversity, the value of annual assessment to evaluate outcomes, and the positive benefits for individuals of all backgrounds.