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Center for Equity in Professional Development
Welcome to Southern Illinois University School of Medicine’s Workforce Equity Center. We have embarked upon this new journey because we are dedicated to the health and well-being of everyone living in Southern and Central Illinois. Thanks to Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth for their unwavering commitment to the potential of the people of Southern and Central Illinois. We are very excited about the new opportunity this center will bring to the region.
Why is a medical school focusing on workforce Equity?
Healthy people emerge from healthy and equitable communities. What we do as physicians in the clinics and hospitals only accounts for a fragment of a patient’s outcome. Lifelong health and well-being require far more than access to excellent medical care. The recent results of our community health needs assessment underscored what we already know. The well-being of our patients is disproportionately and negatively impacted by economic disparities and social determinants of health. We know we must advance our efforts to move outside clinic walls and into the community, and that through increased community collaboration we will better serve our patients and improve health outcomes.
Alignment and Expansion
Despite the multiple challenges of the last two years, SIU took every opportunity to build and invest in relationships with our community partners. This alignment led to the development of a Center for Equity in Professional Development which includes training, technical assistance, and outreach to health care organizations and other industries serving central Illinois. The Center will work with industry leaders to develop training and technical assistance to support their efforts to build a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce for the future. Entities such as K-12 schools and higher education, insurance companies, banks, community-based not-for-profits, and others can utilize the center to develop industry-specific training programs and services for their employees. The Center will also collect data on the current status of equity and diversity in our workforce and identify best practices to improve professional development offerings for employers in our region.
History of success
We have had a 12-year history of success with this type of initiative through our McNeese Physician Preparatory Pathway Program (P4). This program targets high school students in our community, providing them with an extensive, immersive experience in what it means to be a physician, and how to pursue a career in medicine. This successful pathway program will serve as a model for other, similar workforce development pathways.
Deepened commitment, creating path forward
If we have learned anything from the last two years, it is that we are responsible to and for each other. Investment in systems that are equitable, inclusive, accessible, and provide the scaffolded support and resources that are needed to improve the health, well-being, and security of everyone in the region. My colleagues across the SIU system, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and partners have been unwavering in their commitment to our communities and their patients, and we look forward to the expansion of our work.