Pathways & Pipelines: Approaches to Increasing Diversity in the Health Professions

Presented by Shani Fleming, MSHS, MPH, PA-C, Rick McGee, PhD, and Norma Poll-Hunter, PhD on March 25, 2021 at 12:00 pm

This session aims to describe the current state of diversity in physician assistant, physician and the biomedical PhD workforce; compare programs and initiatives to increase diversity; and identify future opportunities to advance diversity in the health sciences.

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Presenter Bios

Shani Fleming devotes her career to promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice within the healthcare community. She holds significant clinical experience as a Physician Assistant (PA) working in family medicine, infectious disease, and urgent care. Shani is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Graduate School PA program and Intercultural Leadership certificate program. She is the Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Officer of the Physician Assistant Leadership and Learning Academy. She has facilitated recruitment efforts, reaching thousands of underrepresented racial and ethnic high school and college students advocating for diversity in PA education. Prof. Fleming is a proud HBCU graduate of University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and completed her Physician Assistant studies, Master of Public Health and Master of Science in Health Science from George Washington University. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Rick McGee, PhD, received BS and PhD degrees in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and the University of Iowa, respectively. He is currently the Associate Dean for Professional Development at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. In that role, his primary responsibility is to support the development of independent research programs of early career faculty. To achieve this, he has developed a novel approach to teaching grant wiring by leading coached writing groups that last 2-4 months. At any point in time 4-6 groups will be ongoing with 3-6 people/group. His career path to creating this unique role began with 20 years of laboratory research in basic neuroscience and cellular pharmacology. His roles then evolved to designing and leading research training at multiple levels, during which he began developing novel coaching models to complement research mentoring. During this evolution, he became interested in actually studying how young scientists develop using sophisticated qualitative research methods and established social science theories and models. A strong theme throughout his career has been in diversity efforts related to both gender and racial/ethnic equality. Today, in addition to his professional development role, he leads a team of social science and education researchers in the NIH-funded National Longitudinal Study of Your Life Scientists. They are also following the outcomes of PhD students who took part in a novel career coaching experiment, The Academy for Future Science Faculty. Dr. McGee also leads an NIH-funded diversity-focused professional development program for early PhD students at Northwestern (the CLIMB program), and is deeply involved with new approaches to promoting effective mentoring relationships, culturally aware mentorship, and grant writing skills through the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN).

Norma Iris Poll-Hunter, Ph.D. serves as Senior Director of Human Capital Initiatives in Diversity Policy and Programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She leads a portfolio of career and workforce development initiatives focused on advancing equity, diversity and inclusion across the medical education continuum. Dr. Poll-Hunter serves as the Principal Investigator for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP), the largest national pre-health intervention focused on increasing diversity in the health professions. Dr. Poll-Hunter also leads three national faculty leadership and career development programs to promote the success of racial and ethnic minority faculty at the early and mid-career levels. She guides the development of numerous partnerships and collaborations with national organizations; and a national awards program recognizing leadership in diversity and health equity.

Dr. Poll-Hunter’s scholarly work focuses on diversity, workforce development, and culturally responsive education and training. She was the lead author of Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine, and project lead and major contributor to Reshaping the Journey: American Indians and Alaska Natives in Medicine. She started her career working in community-based organizations on the development and implementation of interventions for youth in underserved communities. As a result of her training and professional experiences, she serves as a subject matter expert on strategies to increase workforce diversity and equity.

Prior to the AAMC, Dr. Poll-Hunter practiced as a bilingual psychologist in Schenectady, New York. She attended the University of Albany, SUNY, where she earned her Ph.D. in counseling psychology, and she earned her BA in Psychology at Lehman College, CUNY. Dr. Poll-Hunter is a proud Nuyorican from the Bronx.