Two student organizations at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine have received the first #VTUnfinished grant from the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Tech to host a series of diversity chats this spring.
The Student National Medical Association (SNMA) and the Asian Pacific American Medical Students Association at the medical school wanted to bring the campaign, launched at Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus this fall, to Roanoke where the medical school is located to highlight the importance and challenges of a diverse and evolving patient and provider population.
The series kicks off with a #VTCUnfinished diversity chat on Tuesday, Jan. 17, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Commons Room at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine located at 2 Riverside Circle in Roanoke.
Students and faculty from the school are encouraged to attend, as well as interested community members. Registration is requested for food planning and space considerations.
“Great dialogue on issues of diversity and identity does not have to end in people agreeing, but if it does not happen at all then we can never understand each other’s perspectives on the things that matter to us,” said Omar Salman from Nashville, Tennessee, a second-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and founder of the school’s chapter of the SNMA, an advocacy organization for improving care for minority patients and minority representation in medicine.
“With the world becoming more interconnected and Roanoke expanding, it's important to understand and accept people of different cultures,” said Mustafa Rasheed from Chantilly, Virginia, a first-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and member of SNMA.
“This provides students the space to discuss deeply personal topics, like identity and race, with their colleagues and mentors. In doing so, we are all becoming more culturally competent physicians,” said Zainab Ibrahim from Annandale, Virginia, a second-year student at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and member of SNMA.
In addition to the inaugural lunch and learn session on Jan. 17, the student groups will plan three other events during the spring. Information about these events will be available on the diversity section of the school’s website and shared through social media, such as the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
The student organizations worked with Karen Eley Sanders, chief diversity officer for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, to apply for the grant and organize the kick-off event.
About 60 percent of students at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine are from groups that are underrepresented in medicine including those from racial minorities, women in STEM, lower-income families, first-generation college students, or certain regions with lower representation in STEM. “Even though we’ve been making progress in the diversity of our student body, the school’s inclusion efforts are still in their infancy,” said Sanders. “We hope these sessions will allow opportunities for dialogue both within the school and with our communities about our differences and how our diversity makes us stronger, through reasoned and respectful discourse. I’m proud of the students’ efforts to bring #VTCUnfinished to the medical school.”
The grant at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is the first awarded by the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at Virginia Tech with support from the Virginia Tech Parent's Fund. The cross-organizational grants are intended to extend the #VTUnfinished initiative that began last fall and to promote positive interactions among Virginia Tech students of varying backgrounds, beliefs, and lived experiences. To find out more about the grants and application requirements, visit the InclusiveVT website.