With the introduction of a new Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences in July came a renewed focus on EDI (equity, diversity, inclusion) within the faculty. One of Dr. Jane Philpott’s core initiatives in her new position has been mobilizing efforts in order to affect real change in the area of EDI. Dr. Leslie Flynn, Vice-Dean Education in the Faculty of Health Sciences, has been working on this issue for the past several years, including serving on the FHS Truth and Reconciliation Task Force, the Indigenous Health Education Working Group, and the FHS Dean’s Advisory Committee on EDI. According to Dr. Flynn: “There have been lots of initiatives, lots of effort, lots of thought, but none of the action we needed. It’s been lovely to see Dr. Philpott really mobilize the EDI effort on campus providing form, function and structure.”

Dr. Philpott has taken a three-pronged approach to her focus on EDI in the faculty. This was outlined during the EDI virtual launch event held on Thursday, September 24. If you missed the virtual presentation, you can view it on the EDI website. First there is the Dean’s Action Table made up of over 150 individuals who have signed up to cover themes such as outreach and summer programs, equity and admission to health professions education, recruitment, retention and mentorship. Then there is the FHS EDI Office, comprised of a Senior Advisor, EDI Initiatives, Indigenous Access and Recruitment Coordinator, an Elder-in-Residence and an EDI Project Manager. Finally, there is an EDI Fund that received a $200,000 donation from the Carrick family to start it off. Dr. Flynn says, “If you’re going to do something to the degree and the level the Dean wants to do, there needs to be investment. It’s the right time for this as the topic is on people’s minds.” Moreover, the future of the Dean’s EDI initiatives will lead to a Strategic Plan to take this work forward and make Queen’s University a global leader in EDI in Health Sciences.

If people want to get involved, Dr. Flynn says there are several ways to do so: “One can get involved in the Dean’s Action Table and all of the working groups. There will also be scholarly work and research done where thinking will be shifted to reforming the curricula through the lens of EDI.”

For Dr. Flynn, this shift in thinking is about creating a “culturally safe space.” She says, “The fact of healthcare is really changing in this country with EDI across the board. When I was training, women were the minority but currently, at least in the U.S., more than 50 per cent of the professionals are female. In nursing, it’s still predominantly a female-led profession but the greatest growth has been men entering the nursing profession. It’s about being socially responsible, including LGBTQ and BIPOC voices. Our learners need to see themselves in the community and they need to be welcomed as part of the profession. It’s clear as an educator that we know those factors impact patient outcomes so if we’re going to prepare professionals to get the best outcomes, we must take these things into consideration.”