An Interview with Robyn Jordan, MD, MPH, Recent Chief Resident

DOM: What does Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mean to you as Chief Resident in the Internal Medicine Residency Program and why is it important to our success as a health care institution and as a school of medicine?

RJ: Ideally, we want our trainees to reflect the patient population that we see as a large NYC hospital straddling two distinct neighborhoods. Being a chief resident puts me in a unique position to try to effect change in terms of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). So far, it means that I can use my platform and voice to try to promote these values among current and future residents in the program, and faculty.

DOM: What particular initiatives are in place to ensure that we have the most diverse cohort of trainees at Mount Sinai each year?

RJ: We have quite a few. Sinai has the Visiting Electives Program for Students Underrepresented in Medicine (VEPSUM) which allows students underrepresented in medicine (URiM) to complete their electives at any of our hospitals. VEPSUM students also meet with the chiefs and Dr. David C. Thomas, our System Vice Chair for Education, to get better insight into the program. We are also planning to return to the SNMA Annual Medical Education Conference (AMEC) this year, which is a great opportunity to help inform rising MS4s about Mount Sinai residency programs. Along with a few current residents, I reach out to URiM applicants who have accepted interviews for our program to let them know the resources available at Sinai if they were to come here.

DOM: What does equity mean in the context of residency training?

RJ: Equity means equal care for all patients. Equity would mean that patients aren't assigned which clinics to attend because some have private and others have public insurance. It would mean that certain populations don't get preferential ICU or stepdown care over others. Above all, it means we put each patient's medical needs first regardless of their background.

DOM: What excites you most about working with a diverse team of people and why is that critical for patient care?

RJ: Easily the different perspectives that each person brings! Some of the best ideas that have resulted in the most comprehensive patient care have come when my team consisted of people from a wide array of backgrounds. I'm not only referring to racial/ethnic differences. We need residents from different geographic regions, socioeconomic statuses, religions, etc. I find that it's on these diverse teams that the most creative solutions to patient care issues are found.

DOM: What does the future of residency and fellowship training look like in the United States in the context of diversity, equity, and inclusion? What advice can you give trainees who may not necessarily be exposed to diverse groups of people in other parts of the country?

RJ: I would like to imagine that the future of residency and fellowship training recognizes that incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are skillsets that need to be taught and cultivated. I have seen this already improving from the time that I applied to residency a short four years ago. I think it is unreasonable to say that we want more DEI without empowering people with the skillset and knowledge base to be able to recognize their own biases and actively go against them.

I would tell trainees who may not be regularly exposed to diverse groups of people to actively seek out opportunities where they can be exposed to others from various backgrounds. They will feel out of their comfort zone and that is okay. These experiences will expand their world view and perceptions in ways that they may not have thought possible. It's often when I felt the most uncomfortable or out of place that I have had the most growth.