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SEEDS Initiative Promises to Invest in Duke Surgery Team Members

Thursday, September 23, 2021
By Scott Behm, Section of Surgical Disciplines
Sustaining Equity, Elevating Diversity in Surgery (SEEDS) Logo

As one of the ten core values of the Section of Surgical Disciplines, diversity plays a crucial role in supporting the employees of Duke Surgery, which in turn enables better care for patients.

Dr. Kunoor Jain-Spangler,
Assistant Professor
of Surgery, Division
of Metabolic and
Weight Loss Surgery

But diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts are most effective when not isolated in a vacuum, and are most useful when incorporated as key components of initiatives on a broader scale.

To this end, the Section of Surgical Disciplines recently launched the SEEDS Initiative (Sustaining Equity, Elevating Diversity in Surgery).

This ambitious, overarching framework promises to invest in the Section's faculty, trainees, and staff through a rolling series of ongoing initiatives organized into seven focus areas.

What is the SEEDS Initiative?

Dr. Mariya Samoylova,
General Surgery Resident

In searching for a program that would have a lasting impact, the DEI committee met with members of the Department of Surgery at the University of Michigan, where the Michigan Promise has enacted successful cultural change.

“The Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Committee Chairs, along with Section leadership, have discussed the details and infrastructure with the faculty and staff running the Michigan Promise and have been impressed with the program and its success thus far,” says Kunoor Jain-Spangler, MD, DEI Chair.

Pamela Keels, MBA,
Divisional Administrator

“We feel this program has the ability to positively affect every aspect of our work lives and is also adaptable to our specific needs at Duke. For example, the Michigan Promise originally does not have a ‘Research and Innovation’ focus area; we felt this is such a strong part of our culture and work here at Duke so we added it and will continually assess the functionality of the Initiative and allow it to evolve as needed.”

The SEEDS Initiative will build on the foundation created by the Section's DEI Committee, formed in 2017 to promote best practices, facilitate data sharing and equity analyses, and support advocacy for change.

Leadership of the SEEDS Initiative includes Kunoor Jain-Spangler, MD (faculty lead), Mariya Samoylova, MD (resident/education lead), and Pamela Keels, MBA (administrative lead).

The seven focus areas of the SEEDS Initiative include:

  • Education
  • Environment
  • Leadership
  • Professional Development, Promotion, & Retention
  • Recruitment
  • Research & Innovation
  • Outreach

The DEI Committee will now function as a steering committee for SEEDS, providing support and resources to focus group leaders and their initiatives. 


Aligning our Values

Although the initiatives of SEEDS will happen at the local level, the expanded focus warranted an official declaration from the Section of Surgical Disciplines to this effort. A working group within the DEI committee evaluated the mission statements of both the Department of Surgery and the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences (HNS&CS). Led by divisional administrators Pamela Keels and Lowell Tyler, MBA, the working group revised the mission statements to reflect the values of the SEEDS Initiative.

The new mission statement for the Department of Surgery is below. The team is working on final edits to the mission statement of HNS&CS.

By fostering an inclusive and sustainably equitable environment throughout our multidisciplinary teams, we:

  • Deliver safe, dignified, high-quality care, guided by best practices;
  • Provide insight regarding the fundamental nature of health and disease; and
  • Empower all patients, trainees, and colleagues with knowledge and the tools for success.

How to Join the Effort

The SEEDS Initiative is currently recruiting Duke Surgery faculty, trainees, and staff to join focus groups in each of the core areas of the Initiative. The Get Involved section of the SEEDS website has information on how to join the effort.


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