As medical schools across the country work to address systemic racism in medicine and foster more inclusive communities, one new initiative aims to increase diversity and advance anti-racism in academic anesthesiology.
RADAR — Raising Anesthesiology Diversity and Anti-Racism — is a partnership between the anesthesiology departments of the University of Michigan Medical School and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. U-M Anesthesiology Chair George A. Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., and head of the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University Michael Avidan, M.B.B.Ch., F.C.A.S.A., announced the initiative today with the launch of its website, radaranesthesia.org.
“2020 was a time of critical reflection regarding race and diversity,” Mashour said. “We realized that, like many fields in medicine, academic anesthesiology had major gaps that needed to be addressed in a systematic way and at a national scale. RADAR is a first step in that direction.”
“We in Washington University’s Department of Anesthesiology are enthusiastic to partner with our colleagues at the University of Michigan in launching RADAR,” Avidan said. “Today, we have the historical opportunity and obligation to integrate the burgeoning spirit of anti-racism, equity, and inclusion into the cultural DNA of our academic institutions.”
RADAR will focus on attracting college and medical students to the field, providing mentorship and networking opportunities for emerging scholars, and developing resources for department leaders interested in building inclusive and anti-racist communities for learners, faculty, and staff.
- College and medical students: Outreach will center on introducing students to the field of anesthesiology. RADAR will offer student-focused events, including virtual open houses with leaders in the field, and provide students with additional resources to learn more about the medical field and anesthesiology.
- Residents, fellows, and emerging scholars: For early-career anesthesiologists, RADAR will focus on providing opportunities to build community with their peers and senior faculty, both virtually and — as COVID-19 restrictions allow — in person. RADAR will emphasize the importance of mentorship and encourage members of this group to seek out mentors and opportunities to mentor others.
- Senior leaders in the field: RADAR aims to empower department leaders with customizable resources and opportunities to share their own best practices. Resources currently available on radaranesthesia.org include recommended reading lists, journal club articles, and hiring procedures. RADAR will continue to look for opportunities to expand its reach and add resources as they’re developed, including implicit bias reduction training materials and resources to develop relationships with secondary schools.
Matt Wixson, M.D., Associate Chair for Diversity in the U-M Department of Anesthesiology, has led development of the online resources. He said he has seen momentum building both within anesthesiology and the greater academic community to make meaningful and lasting change in the field.
“We know there’s a strong desire to attract and support students from traditionally underrepresented groups to academic anesthesiology — but department leaders don’t necessarily know where to start,” said Wixson. “Our goal with RADAR is to meet you at that starting point — or wherever your department is on this journey — and provide tools you can start implementing.”
Ellen Lockhart, M.D., Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Anesthesiology in the Department of Anesthesiology at Washington University, said RADAR’s launch is a first step in bringing the field together for critical conversations and action.
“This is an important effort and we hope to galvanize the academic anesthesiology community to work for change,” she said. “What we have here is only the beginning. There is great potential going forward.”
RADAR will host a virtual launch event Wednesday, March 31, at 7 p.m. EDT. Why We’re Here: Increasing Diversity in Anesthesiology will feature a panel discussion on the need for greater diversity within the field. Panelists include:
- Allison Mitchell, M.D., Associate Program Director for Residency and Assistant Professor, Washington University in St. Louis
- Peter Knoester, M.D., Anesthesia Practice Consultants and Grand Rapids African American Health Institute Advisory Council
- Nate Hughes, M.D., CA-1, Rutgers University
- Brittany Ervin-Sikhondze, M.D., Anesthesiology Intern, University of Michigan
More information about the event, and a link to register, is available at radaranesthesia.org/about/events.
RADAR will host additional events throughout the year — both independently and connected with partner foundations and societies such as AUA, FAER, and IARS. To receive periodic updates about RADAR events and news, please subscribe to the RADAR newsletter.
RADAR — Raising Anesthesiology Diversity and Anti-Racism — is a partnership between the Departments of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan and Washington University in St. Louis. Our work is funded through the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Sciences under award number R13GM117845.