In October, the medical school welcomed more than 150 people to the W.E. Upjohn M.D. Campus for the 6th Annual WMed Health Equity Summit.
The focus of this year’s event, which was held Friday, October 13, 2023, was women’s health equity. The free, full-day event featured morning and afternoon workshops covering important topics ranging from mental health disparities and disparities in abortion care to breast cancer in underrepresented groups and black maternal and infant mortality.
“I think one of the things that I was really pleased with was the variety of people who attended,” said Cheryl Dickson, MD, MPH, the medical school’s associate dean for Health Equity and Chief Diversity Officer. “That’s really important so that the messages and knowledge gained from the event are being delivered to multiple organizations externally and internally.”
This year’s summit was a joint collaboration of WMed, the Western Michigan University Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Kalamazoo College Office of Diversity, and the Kalamazoo Valley Community College Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Attendees at this year’s symposium heard opening remarks from Dr. Dickson and a welcome message from WMed Dean Paula Termuhlen, MD.
The morning keynote address, “Why Women Aren’t Winning at Health,” was presented by Marjorie Jenkins, MD, MEdHP, FACP. Dr. Jenkins is a professor of internal medicine and dean of University of South Carolina Greenville School of Medicine. She also serves as chief academic officer at Prisma Health-Upstate.
This year’s summit featured five workshop sessions for attendees that covered important topics, including the ethical and practical challenges in studying health equity, breast cancer in underrepresented groups, mental health disparities, disparities in abortion care, and health inequities in maternal immunization.
“The quality of this year’s workshops was really top-notch,” Dr. Dickson said. “They made you think about the different topics in ways that you might not have before.”
The afternoon keynote address, “Black Maternal and Infant Death: A Public Health Crisis,” was presented by Margaret Larkins-Pettigrew, MD, MEd, MPPM, FACOG. Dr. Larkins-Pettigrew is the senior vice president and chief clinical DEI officer for Highmark Health and Allegheny Health Network, professor and academic chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Drexel University College of Medicine, and founder and president of Women and Neonates, Diversity, Opportunity, Outreach and Research (WONDOOR).
This year’s summit also featured a poster showcase where students and other members of the WMed community got the chance to highlight their research projects.
Dr. Dickson said she received positive feedback from attendees at this year’s summit about the topics that were covered and the keynote speakers. The research poster showcase was also a welcomed addition to this year’s event, she said.
“It was so wonderful to see so many students with posters and the research they’re doing is really good and really important,” Dr. Dickson said.
Dr. Dickson said she was thankful for the numerous volunteers at WMed who helped make this year’s health equity summit a success, including faculty and staff from the Office of Diversity, Health Equity, and Inclusion, the Office of Continuing Education, the Office of the Dean, Educational Affairs, and Research, as well as Drs. Kevin Ault Jan Werbinski.