Faculty, residents and fellows joined together recently at the Indianapolis Artsgarden to celebrate the inaugural Multicultural Physicians’ Alliance (MPA) Gala, sponsored by Indiana University Health. The purpose of the gala was to honor individuals who exemplify inclusive behavior at Indiana University School of Medicine. During this inaugural gala, two Diversity Champion award winners were honored—assistant professor of clinical pediatrics Julia LaMotte, PhD, and anesthesiology resident Michael Adjei, MD.
This was the first year the awards have been given out. Gerard Hills, MD, emphasizes it is not just about faculty, residents, and fellows—anyone at the school can be nominated.
“We want to highlight faculty and trainees, but also staff and anyone who has helped improved the experience for underrepresented minority patients, students, medical professionals, or others,” said Hills, the fellow ambassador for the MPA.
Hills helped create the MPA at IU School of Medicine. During his time at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Hills was part of a similar MPA group and brought a similar mission and vision to IU. The MPA group at IU was previously called the Underrepresented Minority Group, but Hills suggested changing the name and redefining the purpose of the group.
“We came up with four pillars that help define our goals and created our bylaws,” Hills said. “Since then, we’ve grown to almost 40 active members across all residency programs. We also have fellows who participate. Our overall goal is to be the Office of Graduate Medical Education’s arm to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion and the lived experience of underrepresented minority physicians at IU.”
The group doesn’t want to simply focus on increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine, but to also help address and meet the needs of those physicians during their time as residents and fellows here at IU.
“Many of them are first-generation college students and need help with financial planning, or even professional development like writing research grants, CVs, and looking over contracts,” said Hills.
The MPA also added a diversity speaker series and began helping residents and fellows become more active in the community. Research shows that when underrepresented minorities are engaged with their communities, they feel a better sense of belonging.
“MPA has definitely grown since my intern year. I think the past few years have been phenomenal,” said Angela Amaniampong, DO, a chief resident in the department of pediatrics and co-ambassador of the MPA. “In past years, MPA members, as well as the executive board, consisted mostly of pediatric residents, but now MPA has grown and has become more widely known amongst residents across all departments— internal medicine, OB-GYN, anesthesia, surgery, family medicine, radiology, plastics—everyone is coming together at these meetings and helping create a sense of belonging for everyone, and that has really helped with creating a more inclusive culture.”
Amaniampong and Ruby Benn, MD, received the Dr. Chaniece Wallace Health Care Disparity Research Award in 2022, which is awarded each year to recognize residents or fellows, who throughout their training have shown commitment to addressing healthcare inequities through their clinical, research, advocacy, and/or community outreach work. Dr. Wallace was a chief resident in the department of pediatrics who died in October 2020, two days after giving birth to her daughter Charlotte, from postpartum complications related to preeclampsia. This year's award winner will soon be revealed and celebrated at the 2024 MPA gala.
Chemen Neal, MD, executive associate dean for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer for IU School of Medicine, was the keynote speaker at the inaugural gala. The event was sponsored by IU Health as well as the Office of Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity.
The MPA hopes to hold another gala celebrating diversity champions in April of every year. They’ll begin taking nominations for the awards in the fall.
“It is our goal to use the gala as a time to recognize individuals who are doing great work and research around improving health disparities and improving the lived experience of minorities,” Hills said.
To learn more about how you can support and be a part of the Multicultural Physicians’ Alliance here at IU School of Medicine, please visit the link below.