Survey Results Illuminate Path Toward a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce

Studies have shown that a racially and ethnically diverse workforce strengthens the health care team and helps improve outcomes for patients. Yet the number of minority physicians (defined as Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people) does not match the demographics of the patient population. This trend of underrepresentation led to the formation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group within the ATS Pediatric Assembly. The group then led a DEI-focused, needs-assessment survey and webinar with funding from a 2022 ATS Pediatric Assembly Project Grant. 

Terri A. Laguna, MD, MSc
Terri A. Laguna, MD, MSc

The results of this survey and webinar will be discussed in A Path Towards a More Diverse and Inclusive Workforce on Tuesday, May 23, at the ATS 2023 International Conference. The session will take place from 2:15–3:45 p.m. ET in Room 147 A-B (Street Level) of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

Though the analysis focused specifically on pediatric pulmonary divisions, the physicians who led the effort say its results can be generalized across specialties. And while what they found isn’t positive, there are significant opportunities for change. 

“The results are not going to surprise anybody,” said Terri A. Laguna, MD, MSc, Seattle Children’s Hospital, one of the session co-chairs. “There’s not a lot of diversity across our workforce, and we do know that having diversity improves outcomes for patients. Patients want their physicians to look like them and be like them.”

In addition to discussing survey results, Dr. Laguna and co-chairs Robyn T. Cohen, MD, MPH, Boston University School of Medicine, and Nicole Stephenson, MD, UNC Children’s Hospital, will steer the discussion toward proposed strategies to address inequities.

“Our goal is to help provide tools, resources, and strategies for each individual to take back to their home institution to try to implement,” Dr. Laguna said. “This way we can make strides toward improving the diversity of the workforce that takes care of children with lung disease.”

Featured presentations will include:

  • Brief Review of DEI in Pediatric Pulmonology Workforce, Terri A. Laguna, MD, MSc, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and Jennifer Rama, MD, MEd, Texas Children’s Hospital/Baylor College of Medicine
  • Importance of a Diverse Workforce – Addressing Health Disparities, Beverley J. Sheares, MD, MS, Yale University School of Medicine, and Stephanie Lovinsky-Desir, MD, MS, Columbia University College of Physicians
  • Results of the Needs Assessment Survey – Key Findings, Robyn T. Cohen, MD, MPH, Boston University School of Medicine, and Mfonobong Udoko, MD, Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Strategies to Improve Recruitment and Retention of URiM Trainees and Faculty, Nicole Stephenson, MD, UNC Children’s Hospital, and Erick Forno, MD, MPH, ATSF, Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh
  • What Can I Do – The Importance of Leadership, Allies and Advocates, Paul E. Moore, MD, ATSF, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Indra Narang, MD, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Canada

The findings of the survey and potential strategies for improvement will also be published soon in the manuscript “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Pediatric Pulmonary Workforce: An Official ATS Workshop Report.” Session attendees will be able to learn firsthand about the findings, ask questions about the data, and explore how to apply DEI solutions to their workplace.

Dr. Laguna emphasized that these issues impact every corner of health care and addressing them can help improve care across the board. But it’s especially important for those in leadership positions to attend this session because they are in roles that can impact recruitment and initiate organizational changes.

“They can hold people accountable and work toward developing an inclusive environment,” she said.


Register today for the ATS 2024 International Conference! Don’t miss this opportunity to take part in the in-person conference, May 17-22 in San Diego. Join your colleagues to learn about the latest developments in pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine.

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