A Message from the Assistant Dean

The office of the Assistant Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is celebrating its first year.

It has been an exciting year.

We started a journey that is a genuine demonstration of our core values, and commitment of our Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry to the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). These principles are embedded in our 2016 - 2021 Strategic Plan as foundational elements of our vision, mission, values, objectives and strategies. These fundamental pillars are significant components of the standards determined by the Committee for Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools.

There are many reasons to celebrate this year, and I am proud to share our work, objectives and achievements with you.

We started with establishing the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee (EDIAC) and creating its Terms of Reference.

The committee includes enthusiastic members that are committed to the hard work of diversity, equity and inclusion and strong collaborating partners with the institutional leading bodies within the Equity Diversity Inclusion (EDI) office in Human Resource Services, as well Safe Disclosure and Human Rights.

With the assistance of the faculty's great communications team, we developed our webpage, as a part of faculty, institutional and public engagement.

One critical initiative was collecting baseline data on the composition of our faculty, staff and clinical faculty members. To achieve this goal, the EDIAC members and I worked in partnership with the Equity Diversity Inclusion (EDI) office in Human Resource Services, who have conducted equity census surveys at U of A since the 1990s.

Our Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry (FoMD) is an institutional leader in piloting a new census questionnaire developed by the EDI Office in consultation with the institutional Employment Equity Advisory Committee, FoMD leadership, and subject matter experts. The survey results will be used to inform strategic planning, policy development, training, mentorship programs and development opportunities to ensure we are recruiting and retaining diverse faculty, staff, and clinical colleagues. This survey will inform a large-scale institutional survey that will be disseminated in future.

To highlight the joy and strength in diversity, we held a scholarly symposium that was open to all members of the U of A community. We were pleasantly surprised that the demand exceeded our expectations, and the event was 'sold out' just a few days after the announcement of the event's date. We had guest speakers, workshops, poster and oral presentation on research topics related to diversity. The feedback from this event was very positive.

I believe that education is a fundamental bridge between excellence, integrity and accountability. This past year our office arranged two educational sessions for Pediatric Grand Rounds: Inclusive Language for Health Care Professionals, and Human Trafficking. These sessions help to increase awareness, improve communication, and patient care.

In collaboration with the MD Program, the Equity Diversity Inclusion (EDI) office in Human Resource, and the Community Social Work Team, and by engaging with students, we created a Human Library session. A Human Library is a space where participants can speak as human "books". The "books" are individuals from various demographics who have experienced stereotyping or prejudice or who have undergone a life experience that is often mischaracterized or misunderstood. The first of its kind in Canada, the medical curriculum helped to increase medical students' awareness of health disparities amongst the LGBTQ population that have been linked to implicit and explicit physician bias. This was a very powerful experience for the volunteers, and us, the coordinators. Huge thanks to Derek Fehr, the MD student who led the human library project with me.

We collaborated with the Office of the Undergraduate Medical Education, MD Admissions, Medical Student Association (MSA), and the Division of Community Engagement to create the MD Admissions Initiative for Diversity & Equity program (MD AIDE). The program aims at increasing diversity in health care professionals by opening the gate to students from a lower income status and Indigenous backgrounds to prepare for the Medical College Association Test (MCAT). Our partnership sets the foundational belief that by planting these seeds at the beginning of the journey in medical education, we will be able to recruit a more diverse group of health care professionals upon graduation, and serve our patient population in a more cultural safe and sensitive way.

We are in advanced stages of creating the final version of a guide to inform best practices for equitable and inclusive recruitment processes, to increase, respect and nurture diversity in our Faculty.

A great deal has been accomplished in our inaugural year and we know there is a lot more work that needs to be done. Without the wonderful partnerships with other University of Alberta organizations, the tireless work of the EDIAC members, and support from volunteers, this would not have been possible.

I would like to recognize EDIAC members, Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, Stephanie Caravallo, Barb McLean and Brianna Bucalo for their hard work and commitment to equity diversity and inclusion at the FoMD.


Helly Goez, MD
Assistant Dean, Diversity
Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry