American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians Expands Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives

As part of an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) over the past several years, the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians (ACOFP) shared new and ongoing initiatives during its 58th Annual Convention and Scientific Seminars opening session on Thursday, March 11.

During her welcoming remarks, ACOFP President Nicole Bixler, DO, MBA, FACOFP, addressed recent efforts within the profession, including:

  • Encouraging the development of core curriculum guidelines in cultural diversity throughout ongoing osteopathic education
  • Advocating for the recognition and inclusion of social determinants of health and their overarching impact on healthcare in policy making
  • Supporting the expansion of physician knowledge in population health
  • Writing letters to Congress in support of legislation that supports the LGBTQI+ community from discrimination by insurance companies and healthcare workers

Dr. Bixler also shared specific ways in which ACOFP has been working to increase its own DEI initiatives, such as diversifying the Board of Governors to include representation from various backgrounds, perspectives and experiences.

"When I reflect on where ACOFP is today, I believe we are embracing the definition of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our efforts so far have served as a foundation for future initiatives, and with any good foundation, there needs to be a mutual and respected understanding of the pillars that support that foundation," Dr. Bixler said. "We are planning to amplify the diverse voices of the members and patients we represent while placing value on the human experience by addressing barriers that exist for our physicians, healthcare teams and patients."

In 2020, ACOFP launched the Task Force on Racism and Health, assembling in three separate sub-committees to focus on governance, education and community outreach. Together, these groups will advise ACOFP efforts in helping to address health disparities in vulnerable populations, align educational offerings to reflect the need to teach core cultural competencies and work with other stakeholders to expand the presence of a diverse family physician population.

During her opening remarks, Dr. Bixler presented the inaugural ACOFP Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award, awarded to Tejal Patel, DO, for her commitment to enhancing DEI within osteopathic family medicine education and practice through her initiative and leadership. One such example includes Dr. Patel's implementation of a program for family medicine residents called "Elephant Rounds," a forum that provides a safe space for residents and faculty to discuss topics like implicit bias and microaggressions.

Sekou Andrews, founder/CEO of SekouWorld, Inc. and a Grammy-nominated spoken word artist then took the stage during the convention for his opening keynote presentation, Power Through the People: Diversity Is Disruption. The only presenter to speak at all five TEDMED conferences before it was reorganized, Andrews has been a powerful voice for healthcare for more than a decade. During his session, he shared research, best practices and proven takeaways to help attendees understand how DEI can stimulate innovation and strengthen the whole-person approach to serving patients.

ACOFP will continue its efforts through the recent launch of its new DEI member survey, which opened Wednesday, March 10. Members have been asked to share feedback about their own DEI insights and how ACOFP can better support them and the patients they serve.

ACOFP Executive Director Bob Moore, MA, CAE, said, "I am proud of ACOFP's leadership for taking time over the last year to reflect on all that has been accomplished and recognize more can and should be done to support DEI in all forms. DEI is a journey and one that ACOFP is committed to."

Source: American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians

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ACOFP is a community of current and future family physicians that champions osteopathic principles and supports its members by providing resources such as education, networking and advocacy, while putting patients first.