School of Medicine
In April 1959 Texas Governor Price Daniel signed House Bill 9 to establish the South Texas Medical School, the first component of the institution that would soon become the Health Science Center. In July 1968 the medical school, now known as The University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio (SOM), and the Bexar County Teaching Hospital, now known as University Hospital, were dedicated. Thirty-three medical students graduated with the Doctor of Medicine degree in the first medical school commencement in June 1970. In 1998 the Texas State Legislature authorized the creation the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) in the Lower Rio Grande Valley, to be administered by the SOM, and in June 2002 the RAHC opened its doors to train medical students and residents. Today there are nearly 900 medical students receiving their education at the SOM.
The mission of the SOM is to provide responsive and comprehensive education, research and service of the highest quality in order to meet the health-related needs of the citizens of Texas. In all aspects of fulfilling this mission, the SOM is committed to fostering the broadest diversity and inclusion that ensures successful achievement of the institutional priorities to:
• Cultivate a pervasive, adaptive and respectful environment promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, professionalism, humanism and opportunity
• Provide exemplary medical education and training to a diverse body of health career professionals at all levels while fostering a commitment to scholarship, leadership and life-long learning across the educational continuum
• Build and sustain recognized leadership, and advance scholarship excellence across the biomedical and health-related research spectrum
• Deliver exemplary and compassionate health care to enhance every patient's quality of life
• Serve as a responsive resource to address community health needs whether local or global
• Attain health equity for the diverse patient population of South Texas
The SOM is fully accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the nationally recognized body for the accreditation of medical education programs leading to the Doctor of Medicine degree in the United States.
The SOM and Health Science Center will, to the extent possible, maintain the confidentiality of information in accordance with institutional, state, and federal regulations and requirements.
The SOM offers programs that create and sustain a spirit of diversity and inclusion that will further shape undergraduate medical education by fostering an environment of cultural competency, sensitivity and awareness. All student diversity efforts are fundamentally and comprehensively rooted in intellectual vitality and cross-cultural understanding that allow our student physicians to embrace and celebrate unique perspectives and life experiences that enrich students, faculty and staff in the SOM. Attention to cultural competence and cultural sensitivity throughout medical education both in and out of the classroom has the potential to alleviate or at least ameliorate systemic disparities in access to and quality of health care. All members of the SOM uphold the principles of the SOM Diversity Policy below.
SOM Diversity Policy
We believe that inclusion of all aspects of education and medicine encompassing diversity augment the richness of an academic community, and fosters intellectual excellence. Similarly, we believe that equity and inclusion are essential to building and sustaining leadership in academic medicine, and critical to advancing health and health care. Thus, it is the SOM’s Diversity Policy that mandates/obligates all members of its communities to strive to:
- Cultivate and ingrain throughout the academic environment a culture that respects equity and nurtures inclusion, allowing an active demonstration of diversity and pluralism as priorities in the fulfillment of each part of the SOM mission.
- Recognize and embrace a broadly defined spectrum of diversity including race, ethnicity, national origin, age, gender, culture, religion, physical abilities, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic class, lifestyle preference, and political conviction. In consideration of our obligation to South Texas, we have a specific commitment to diversity as it relates to the recruitment and retention of Hispanics/Latinos and women in our faculty, staff and student communities.
- Uphold all Health Science Center EEO/AA and Human Resources' policies and practices for non-discrimination in recruitment and employment of any administrative and professional employee, classified staff and other employees, as well as trainees.
- Uphold all equity policies and practices for faculty recruitment and non-discrimination, and employ best practices for insuring broad outreach and inclusive searches.
- Uphold all equity policies and practices for faculty retention, professional development, advancement, and transitions across the faculty career 'life-span,' incorporating best practices to provide effective mentoring and a respectful, inclusive and supportive environment.
- Establish valid and reliable metrics to gauge diversity accomplishments; insure accuracy of required reports and other data management. Employ continuous quality improvement methods to ensure periodic reassessment of the SOM Diversity Policy and the SOM Diversity Action Plan (http://som.uthscsa.edu/diversity/Diversity%20and%20Inclusion%20Strategic%20Plan%202014.pdf).
The SOM's inclusive culture also continues to seek, attract, retain, educate, train, develop and advance (although is not limited to) individuals with any of the following:
- Life experience and/or professional expertise related to health inequities and/or healthcare disparities, including women's health and healthcare needs;
- A family of origin background inclusive of any of the following:
- low educational attainment
- rural or South Texas origin;
- Female gender;
- Military veteran status;
- Race/ethnicity of any groups historically underrepresented in medicine, including:
- Hispanic or Latino, particularly of Cuban, Mexican or Puerto Rican origin, and of any race
- Black or African American
- American Indian or Alaskan Native
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
General School of Medicine Diversity Definition
Diversity at our institution is defined for faculty, staff and students as a broad range of intrinsic characteristics that include lifestyles, races/ethnicities, mental/physical abilities and characteristics, ages and genders that are encompassed within a community; all of these add value to our educational, research, clinical and community activities. These are supplemented by our acknowledged extrinsic (acquired/developed) education attainment, and family status (figure below). This definition is supported by the SOM’s mission to “cultivate a pervasive, adaptive and respectful environment promoting diversity, inclusion, equity, professionalism, humanism and opportunity”. We believe that it is through the affirmation of one another’s experiences that we become better suited to understand each other and to achieve a greater capacity to improve the human condition and yield the best health outcomes (http://som.uthscsa.edu/aboutus.asp). Diversity and inclusion have been tied to excellence in academic and research settings, thus we endeavor to provide culturally competent education, patient care, scientific discovery, and thoughtful community service in this context.
School Endorsement of AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion Definitions
To complement our school-specific definition of diversity, we also ask our faculty and staff to recognize the operable and formal definitions of diversity, inclusion and health equity established through extensive collaboration and deliberation of the Association of American Medical Colleges' Group on Diversity and Inclusion (https://www.aamc.org/members/gdi/):
Diversity as a core value embodies inclusiveness, mutual respect, and multiple perspectives and serves as a catalyst for change resulting in health equity. In this context, we are mindful of all aspects of human differences such as socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, language, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, disability and age.
Inclusion is a core element for successfully achieving diversity. Inclusion is achieved by nurturing the climate and culture of the institution through professional development, education, policy, and practice. The objective is creating a climate that fosters belonging, respect, and value for all and encourages engagement and connection throughout the institution and community.
Health equity is when everyone has the opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of their social position or other socially determined circumstance.