INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine recognized the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine as a 2018 recipient of the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence into Diversity (HEED) award.

The award “recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

The publisher said nearly 175 health-profession schools, including medical, dental, nursing, pharmacy, veterinary, and allied health schools, applied for the award, but only 35 were selected, including the VTC School of Medicine. The magazine will feature the winners in the December 2018 issue.

“This honor speaks to our hardworking students, employees, faculty, and community partners who strive for VTCSOM to be a welcoming environment for all,” said Cynda Johnson, founding dean of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Over the past seven years, the medical school redoubled its diversity and inclusion efforts, including recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and employees. In recent years, nearly half of entering students have been members of groups that are underrepresented in medicine. In addition, the number of women and underrepresented minority faculty and staff has steadily increased.

One of VTCSOM’s newest diversity initiatives is the Health Professions Enrichment Program (HPEP), an educational outreach program for high-potential 10th graders who are passionate about science and health-related careers.

In addition, over the past two years, medical students have led a series of diversity discussions called #VTCUnfinished, which focus on diversity and inclusion conversations that are unfinished or not yet initiated. Past events focused on health disparities and challenges for diverse and evolving patient and provider populations. Virginia Tech’s Office for Inclusion and Diversity provided a grant to two student organizations that helped launch the initiative.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine also offers Diversity Lunch and Learns that are open to employees, faculty, and students at the medical school but also anyone in the greater community. The monthly sessions are centered around contemporary issues related to inclusion, diversity, civility, and social justice.

“I am proud that diversity and inclusion efforts at VTCSOM are not just housed within a single office at the medical school. It is a collaborative effort by employees, faculty, students, and community members,” said Karen Eley Sanders, chief diversity officer for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and associate vice provost for college access at Virginia Tech.

The Health Professions HEED award for VTCSOM is separate from a recognition the university received earlier this year. INSIGHT into Diversity magazine recognized Virginia Tech as a 2018 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award recipient and a 2018 Diversity Champion.