Keck School of Medicine of USC: A place where we all belong

Joyce Richey, PhD, meets with medical student leaders of DEI interest groups. (Photo courtesy of the Keck School of Medicine of USC)
Joyce Richey, PhD, meets with medical student leaders of DEI interest groups. (Photo courtesy of the Keck School of Medicine of USC)

Building a diverse, equitable and inclusive culture at the Keck School.

For the betterment of the Keck School of Medicine community, an innovative initiative was conceived last year known as the JEDI-WeST Committee: Justice through Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, Well-being and Social Transformation. Ricky Bluthenthal, PhD, chair of JEDI-WeST, has been leading the team of equity champions from existing diversity, equity, inclusion, anti-racism (DEIA) efforts to expand the vision of an authentic, equity-based culture at the Health Sciences Campus (HSC), and to co-create several initiatives that embody USC’s unifying values and the university’s commitment to culture transformation.

Bluthenthal shares the group’s inspiration and intention, “The JEDI-WeST committee believes that the Keck School has an ethical imperative to build a foundation of psychological safety for ALL members of the HSC community—especially those from minoritized groups—and to develop a culture that appreciates, respects, and values diverse individuals because they are necessary to achieve the excellence to which our school aspires.”

This year, with fervor and promise to systematize and operationalize DEIA through the JEDI-WeST initiatives, Senior Vice President of Health Affairs, Steven Shapiro, MD, and Interim Dean, Narsing Rao, MD, awarded funding for all proposed JEDI-WeST initiatives:

  • Antiracism Education, Allyship Training, and Institutional Climate Change
  • GEMS: Gender Equity in Medicine and Science
  • Inclusion Resource Groups
  • Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Workforce Development Program (JEDI Workforce)
  • Leadership Development Program for Division Chiefs and Vice Chairs to enhance the well-being of the clinician workforce
  • Recruiting Exceptional Faculty
  • Vice Chairs for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)
  • JEDI-WeST Communications Strategy

This level of commitment from the school and university is a giant step forward in ensuring that equity works for all members of the HSC community, and the Keck School looks forward to further institutionalizing this critically important work. Shapiro notes, “Medicine and science should be the models for anti-racism.”

In the coming months, JEDI-WeST will implement these initiatives. It will share its purpose by getting proximate to the people that are positively affected and impacted by these efforts. It will rejuvenate the hearts and minds of the Keck School community members and beyond, in a way that establishes the school as a place where everyone is seen, heard, and valued; a place where you belong.

Please visit our Diversity and Inclusion page for upcoming events.