DEI Committee’s First Challenge: Tackle Unconscious Bias

DEI Committee’s First Challenge: Tackle Unconscious Bias

Paul J. Rochon, MD, believes that everyone brings unintentional biases to their jobs.

Paul J. Rochon, MD
Paul J. Rochon, MD

“Even the ones who are deeply rooted in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts,” he said.

As chair of the ABR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, one of Dr. Rochon’s tasks is to lead a team that provides resources and assistance for oral examiners and question writers. He and his colleagues are working to ensure fairness for everyone who takes initial certification exams and participates in Online Longitudinal Assessment (OLA).

“Unconscious bias tends to be a good starting point,” said Toby Gordon, ScD, the ABR Board of Governors Public Member and part of the DEI Committee.

The group is talking with experts in the field to assist in developing an unconscious bias program that proves useful for the ABR’s approximately 1,100 volunteers. The group will address other issues involving race, gender, and accommodations for those with disabilities, among other subjects.

“A lot of institutions want to just check off a box that they have DEI training or preparation,” said Dr. Rochon, who’s also an ABR trustee. “We’re taking our time to make sure that what we do is appropriate for our organization and that it fits with our mission.”

Toby Gordon, ScD
Toby Gordon, ScD

The committee started gathering last September at the ABR Board Meeting. Other members include Donald Flemming, MD; Kalpana Kanal, PhD; Elizabeth Oates, MD; and Catheryn Yashar, MD. All four specialties that are certified by the ABR are represented.

“Everyone listens to one another’s perspective,” Dr. Rochon said. “We don’t have all the answers, but this committee’s work is really important.”

Drs. Gordon and Rochon both have extensive DEI experience: Dr. Gordon at Johns Hopkins and Dr. Rochon when he was with University of Colorado Health. The lessons they have picked up are transferrable to their ABR work.

“It’s important to have open, honest discussions,” Dr. Gordon said. “We may get into topics that aren’t going to be comfortable for everybody, but the sense I get from our group is that we want to respect what people are doing in their own institutions and help people take ownership over the importance of this for the ABR.”

Please be on the lookout for more on the DEI Committee in the February issue of The Beam, the ABR’s electronic newsletter.

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