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School of Medicine adds Health Equity Scholars program

Published Date:

SIU School of Medicine has launched a new scholar track for medical students and staff who want to advance diversity and integration, reduce stigma and biases, and practice anti-racism and critical consciousness in health care.

The Health Equity Scholar Pathway is offered to physicians, staff and students as part of the 4-year curriculum in Carbondale and Springfield. Courses provide guidance in six program areas:  
• Education
• Research & discovery
• Advancing patient care
• Challenging assumptions
• Social responsibility
• Community service

Learners pursuing health equity scholarship can achieve three certification levels. Medical students who reach the third level will graduate with a Health Equity Scholar distinction at commencement.

“SIU Medicine want our learners to develop patient advocacy skills that can empower their future training and careers,” said Kelly Hurst, equity strategist. “This newest scholar track emphasizes the importance of pursuing inclusive, bias-free medical education opportunities, and treating everyone with empathy and respect.”

Health Equity Scholars can explore and research various dimensions of diversity, including race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, socioeconomic status, ability and more.

Participants will attain knowledge and understanding of best practices in medical care through lectures, workshops and guided book studies, research, attending cultural or arts events that provide social connections to issues of equity or diversity, and online learning from podcasts, webinars or conferences. In addition, each student will be matched with a Health Equity mentor as they begin the pathway.

SIU School of Medicine Dean and Provost Dr. Jerry Kruse said, “Equity in health care has never been more important. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright spotlight on the disparities within the U.S. health care system. Racial, socioeconomic and geographic challenges will need to be understood, and overcome, to reverse trends that show the U.S. is losing ground in significant health care categories among comparable countries.”

For more information on the program, visit  For questions or assistance, contact Kelly Hurst.

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