African American Physicians Networking Group
Of the more than 1,300 physicians who are in the Novant Health Medical Group, 13.5 percent are African-American. But African-Americans make up an even smaller percentage of the medical group’s leadership team. Among African American physicians, there is a perception that the organization does not recognize their leadership skills.
The CEO and chief diversity and inclusion officer coordinated and facilitated focused dialogue sessions over dinner with the goal of obtaining authentic input from African American physicians and creating an inclusive leadership environment for all physicians. In the sessions, participants discussed several opportunities to build the type of environment that we hope and expect to achieve. At each meeting, the level of candor grew and the honesty supported us in discussing opportunities that will move Novant Health toward a more inclusive environment. In addition, the CEO shared information about the mission case and business case for diversity and inclusion and also detailed the high-impact changes that he has made to support diversity and inclusion overall. Physicians identified opportunities for change, including:
- The need for mentoring as a key resource for physicians.
- Recognition of the race/ethnicity of physicians in ECHO (provider credentialing system). In physician clinics, patients request to be referred to physicians who share their own identity or background, asking, for example, for doctors who are African-American, or Spanish-speaking, etc.
- Diversity and inclusion education (inclusive of addressing health disparities). Explore opportunities to provide annual education for physicians, similar to patient safety education.
- Opening up avenues to leadership (including participation in decision-making committees). This opportunity would recognize the importance of having the necessary voices “at the table.”
- Networking with colleagues, providing informal ways for physicians to get to know each other.
- Marketing and advertisements. Shaping marketing and advertising to diverse audiences.
- Discussing the location of future physician offices to ensure access for all patients.
- Novant Health is working collaboratively with the community to open practices in underserved communities.
- Re-organized the medical group’s executive council to create a more inclusive team.
- Two African-American networking events were hosted for physicians to connect with each other, the executive team leaders and the vice presidents of medical affairs.
- Mentoring program was established for new physicians
- ECHO database is being redesigned to include the ability of physicians to identify their race and ethnicity.
It is important to create an inclusive environment and have the necessary voices at the table to care for our patients, attract talent and develop the skills and talents of all physicians.