Why Diversity Matters in Medical Education

Leadership and Diversity: Strengthening Queen’s Medical Education


Two years ago, Dr. Mala Joneja was appointed Director of Diversity and Equity in the Queen's School of Medicine. Dr. Joneja is an Associate Professor in the Division of Rheumatology with the Department of Medicine, in addition to her ongoing involvement in undergraduate and postgraduate education. Dr. Joneja is serving as acting chair for Division of Rheumatology.
Early into her role, Dr. Joneja initiated a strategic planning process related to diversity and inclusion initiatives. She chairs a diversity panel, which includes students, faculty, equity office staff, and education developers. The panel meets monthly, and works to create partnerships, encourage discussion, and build support what will be the school’s strategic plan for diversity.

In addition to this work, Queen's University is undertaking work through (a) its Comprehensive International Plan to attract international students and (b) its International Centre to support an internationally informed and cross-culturally sensitive learning environment. 

Diversity Leads to Greater Appreciation of Alternative Viewpoints

Diversity is an important standard for every medical school throughout North America. Over the last decade, there has been an increased focus on enhancing the diversity not only among our student populations, but also our faculty members and individuals working in the health-care system. As Dr. Joneja says in her blog post, Seeking Diversity and Inclusion in Medical Education, “there is a move to ensure that the students who are studying to become physicians are as diverse as the population they are going to serve when they graduate.” Put another way, fostering diversity within the learning environment means we will graduate better doctors.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ publication, Diversity and Inclusion in Academic Medicine: A Strategic Planning Guide, “in a recent study from Harvard and the University of California […] students reported that contact with diverse peers led to a more balanced exchange of information in classroom discussions, more serious discussions of alternative viewpoints about disease and treatments, greater appreciation of inequities in the health care system, and more cultural sensitivity.”

Medical School Accreditation Supports Diversity Goals

With social accountability becoming more and more a part of accreditation standards, schools are expected to have specific goals related to promoting and enhancing diversity outcomes among its students, faculty and leadership. These standards include the appropriate use of policies and practices, programs and partnerships for achieving diversity among qualified applicants for medical school admission.
Dr. Joneja is helping the school to achieve these goals by working with the education leadership and the admissions committee. Dr. Joneja is promoting the use, among Department Heads within the School of Medicine, of the Diversity and Equity Self-Assessment and Planning Tool (DEAP) developed by the Queen’s Equity Office. The DEAP tool helps leaders develop and execute plans for enhanced diversity. Since taking up her role, Dr. Joneja has not only been busy developing objectives, but also creating sustained momentum for important improvements that will enrich our students and our faculty.

Get In Touch

If you’re an international student interested in joining Queen’s University School of Medicine, reach out, and we’ll help you determine if Queen’s University School of Medicine is right for you. .

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