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Duke Emergency Medicine's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Community Outreach

Monday, October 4, 2021
By Sreeja Natesan, MD, Assistant Residency Program Director, Emergency Medicine Residency Program
Duke EM volunteers

Image above: Duke Emergency Medicine faculty, residents, and family volunteering.

Diversity in the workforce and creating an equitable inclusive environment has been a cornerstone of Duke Emergency Medicine (EM). Incorporating diversity offers many benefits to the community including creating richer educational experiences, improved cultural competencies, and strengthened professionalism.

Studies have found that a diverse physician group also improves patient care and outcomes, as physicians who are underrepresented in medicine (UIM) enhance cultural sensitivity and are more likely to serve low-income, disadvantaged, and minority populations. However, the mission for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) does not end at the doors of the EM, but must extend out to the community.  

Duke EM Fundraiser Flyer
Duke Emergency Medicine
Fundraiser Flyer

Community outreach is a priority area recognized in both the Duke EM DEI Needs Assessment that was conducted in January of 2020, as well as echoed in the resident retreat. Much work has been done in this area although there is still much work to do. While it is important to share the outreach our group has done to support our community, we must not be complacent in our efforts and plans for the future which include working further in these areas and adding more sustainable efforts.

EM Resident with Food Drive
Duke EM resident with goods for the
food drive.

This past year, despite battling a global pandemic, the division raised over $2000 for the Interfaith Food Drive to help those in need during the holiday season.  Our residents, led by Jessica Robertson, DO, were able to run a three day food-drive for McDougald Terrace, raising $2,000 for residents who were unable to return to their homes due to a carbon monoxide leak. Both events were able to provide much needed items to those in need during this holiday season.

Outreach was also in the form of educational events, particularly surrounding COVID-19.  Kendrick Kennedy, MD, worked with the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People to provide education on COVID-19 and vaccine hesitancy. John Purakal, MD, MS, a leader in Social Emergency Medicine, contributed in a variety of ways including education on COVID-19, aiding in vaccination clinics, and advancing the field of Social EM through research. Catherine Staton, MD, MS, has continued her global outreach work through the Global Emergency Medicine Innovation and Implementation Research Lab (GEMINI).

COVID19 Vaccination Info session flyer
COVID-19 Vaccine
Informational Flyer

Despite the need to transition to a virtual platform, many of our EM faculty at our Duke Health Profession Recruitment And Exposure Program (HPREP)-a pipeline program to bring Underrepresented in Medicine candidates into medicine) taught high school students about healthcare through the Stop the Bleed interactive session. Many of our faculty have been a part of this program for years and continue to collaborate with the Duke Medical School Chapter of Student National Medical Association (SNMA).

This year we have created a Community Outreach working group led by Sreeja Natesan, MD, Dr. Robertson, and Dr. Kennedy, which has been active in sending out opportunities to serve the community through a variety of events including fundraising, food-drives, and community work days. Below is a picture from the July outreach for the Durham Central park where our attendings, residents, and advanced practice providers worked together to clean up the park. We also helped in a Back-to-School Bottle Water and Canned Food in August for the Durham Rescue Mission. Additionally we will soon be partnering with Root Causes, a Duke student-led program, to help address food insecurity in our community.

While we take pride in caring for our patients in the Emergency Department, we are dedicated to the mission to serve our patients within and outside of these walls to ensure an inclusive and equitable environment. We look forward to seeing the strides Duke Emergency Medicine makes for our patients and community.


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