Creating Community

Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Medicine

Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Building Community and Diversity are central to the mission of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) in meeting the health needs of the people of Wisconsin and beyond through excellence in education, research, patient care and service. Our program strives to be part of the long-overdue and necessary changes to the medical profession, and to develop physician leaders who are fundamentally invested in advancing health and health equity by respecting the rights, dignity, and differences of all.

>> Our Vision

In order to build trust among our communities and all who work in healthcare and to develop clinicians who understand the needs of manifold and underrepresented populations and advance shared values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we promote a culture that:

     Builds an inclusive workforce reflective of the patients we serve that embraces the diversity of identity, culture, thought and experiences.
     Champions longitudinal, evidence-based training in social justice and anti-racism.
     Educates and trains a group of ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse clinicians.
     Studies ethnic and racial disparities in healthcare, societal patterns of health inequity, and social needs contributing to disease.
     Develops solutions to reduce or eliminate these disparities.
     Cultivates an open, inclusive, and respectful learning and working environment.

>> Our Approach

It is essential to engage learners in efforts aimed at dismantling racism and other contributors to health care disparities. To this end, the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM) will:

  • Recruit, retain and support faculty, staff, administrators, residents, and fellows from diverse backgrounds
  • Employ a curriculum that includes emphasis on cross-cultural instruction and intercultural communication skills
  • Foster new and existing quality improvement projects and research that will advance our diversity mission and alleviate healthcare disparities
  • Advance a research agenda in areas of scholarship focusing on diversity and ethnic and racial disparities
  • Care for all patients compassionately and without judgment of race, ethnicity, creed, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, socioeconomic background or any other human factor

>> Our Actions


  • Maintain a holistic, non-discriminatory residency application review process
  • Recruit faculty from diverse backgrounds, especially faculty who have undertaken dedicated training in anti-racism, social justice, and the development of diversity, equity and inclusion curricula within graduate medical education

  Education & Training

  • Implement a cultural competency curriculum through didactics, journal clubs, simulation training and experiential workshops, starting with core concepts but advancing beyond to incorporate the unique care needs of historically marginalized patient populations.
  • Bring in guest lecturers with expertise in DEI topics and health disparities research and advocacy, including grand rounds speakers.
  • Sponsor diversity-oriented scholarships for visiting medical students from across the U.S. and support these students with focused mentorship from faculty and residents during their four weeks at the UW.
  • Engage medical students at the UW SMPH in discussion and learning of social determinants of health early in their careers through the Health Professions Shadowing Program and Upstream in the ED program.
  • Support programs at the UW SMPH working to increase the number of historically underrepresented students in medicine and engage pre-college, undergraduate and health professional students.

  Research and Discovery

Across our research and knowledge translation activities, we continually work to sustain and strengthen our practice of critical reflection and active engagement with systemic and structural drivers of inequities. We recognize this effort as an essential component of our commitment to conducting transformative and innovative research—which extends to the way we engage and value the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives among our teams, trainees, and the populations we serve. Much of our research centers on understanding how the current healthcare system does not sufficiently support vulnerable populations and identifying ways to address these shortcomings.

  • Engage in research focused on promoting effective, meaningful, and equitable care and research for people living with and at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and which stewards new areas of investigation surrounding care delivery patterns and outcomes and established frameworks to advance research equity and inclusion.
  • Address these priorities among vulnerable populations at high-risk points in the health and care continuum, such as during and after emergency department care and hospitalization and in advanced disease stages.
  • Understand and address how vulnerable populations are disproportionately affected by substance abuse and child sex trafficking, and implement ED-based interventions to improve care for these populations.

"It is incredibly important to identify where and why these patients are being managed and treated differently, and to ameliorate these healthcare disparities." - Allie Hurst, MD, MS, medical director for pediatric emergency medicine and co-PI on a study in collaboration with UW School of Pharmacy utilizing game-based learning to teach opioid safety

View some of our research publications from the 2021-22 academic year or current grant funding with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Centennial Scholars & Centennial Clinicians Programs
The goal of the Centennial Scholars Program is to develop faculty whose diversity enhances the quality of education and research at the UW SMPH, and who may serve as visible and available role models for students and trainees, especially those from underrepresented minority backgrounds. The BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine wholeheartedly supports this program and is honored to have three faculty alumni of the Centennial Scholars Program, including one current faculty scholar, Andrea Gilmore-Bykovskyi, PhD, RN.

  Social Emergency Medicine

Our program is devoted to raising awareness of and dealing with the social determinants of health that have an impact on the health and general quality of life of our patients. Many of our patients are members of marginalized and vulnerable groups who are frequently underserved and suffer disproportionately from the health disparities and inequities that are present in our nation. Our faculty and residents understand the importance of community health and seek to improve the lives of the citizens of Madison and beyond by engaging directly with the community, particularly our underserved populations.

We encourage everyone at DEM to be involved with community-based programs in Madison and the surrounding communities in order to serve and better understand the resources available for patients who have a variety of social needs—from unstable housing, food insecurity, substance use, social isolation, etc.

  • MEDiC Clinics: DEM faculty and residents volunteer four times each year at free health clinics in the Madison area serving vulnerable populations.
  • Annual Day of Service: Each year our residents spend one conference day collectively volunteering with a community organization in need, such as a local food bank.
  • Street Medicine: The core idea behind Street Medicine is to interact with people who are homeless on their terms and in their current location in order to minimize or remove any obstacles to care access. In order to foster trust-building with this socially marginalized and extremely vulnerable community, it is imperative to go to them where they reside, whether those places be under bridges, in urban encampments, or in alleyways. Our faculty and residents work with local organizations to bring health care to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness in the Madison community.
  • Civic Health: Our emergency departments offer patients, visitors, and staff the opportunity to register to vote on-site in our ED waiting rooms through a nonpartisan, non-interruptive voter registration system called Vot-ER.

Each year we recognize DEM faculty and residents who go above and beyond in the realms of advocacy and community service. Our residents have even been recognized at the state level with the Howard J. Croft Resident Advocate Award from the Wisconsin chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

>> Building community within DEM

“One of my favorite parts of working in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UW is the culture of respect and honesty. That culture fosters a place where all people can bring their ideas to the table and have their voices heard.” – Jessica Schmidt, MD, MPH, associate professor and director of global emergency medicine

We share UW–Madison’s commitment to creating a community where every person feels welcome, valued, and able to succeed. We view diversity as a source of strength, creativity, and innovation and value the contributions of each person with respect for the profound ways their identity, culture, background, experience, status, abilities, and opinion enrich our university and community. Beyond this, we view diversity and equitable inclusion as inextricably linked to our goals as a residency program and department and understand the critical work of disrupting cycles of structural and systemic discrimination and exclusion to achieve these goals.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is a cross-platform initiative within the BerbeeWalsh Department of Emergency Medicine (DEM). Structurally, the department’s DEI efforts are organized and implemented through the DEI Committee. Founded in the fall of 2020, the committee’s mission is to develop a community that is fundamentally invested in advancing health and health equity by respecting the rights, dignity, and differences of all.

The committee is dedicated to working in various areas including Education, Metrics, Leadership and Community Engagement. The committee is comprised of departmental faculty, residents, and administrative and clinical staff to ensure voices are represented at every level of our organization.

In 2022, the DEI Committee launched a department-wide e-newsletter focused on highlighting current initiatives and events at DEM and providing general discussion and education on DEI topics. Diversity Digest is published quarterly and distributed to all faculty, fellows, residents, APPs, academic staff and clinical staff of the Department of Emergency Medicine. View the Fall 2022 issue of Diversity Digest.

The quarterly DEI Book Club is sponsored by the DEI Committee and led by Dr. Ryan Tsuchida. All providers and staff are invited to read along and join together for a collective discussion of a featured book, which has included works such as "How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith, and “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah. The former is part of the UW-Madison’s Go Big Read initiative, a common reading program that engages members of our campus community and beyond in a shared, academically focused reading experience.

DEM Women’s Interest Group Women: Women physicians in the field of emergency medicine face a unique set of challenges. The DEM women’s interest group meets bimonthly to discuss gender bias in emergency medicine, foster gender equity, and develop strategies for both personal and professional success.

Group on Women in Medicine and Science: Chaired by the Department of Emergency Medicine's Vice Chair of Education, Dr. Mary Westergaard, this group engages women across the UW SMPH to amplify the lives of women in medicine and science and to work towards gender parity in healthcare and science fields. The group also conducts an annual symposium featuring a keynote speaker, panel discussion, and awards presentation. Speakers will explore opportunities, obstacles, and strategies for success for women in medicine and science.

Employee Resource Groups: Voluntary, employee-led employee resource groups (ERGs) at UW Health and the UW SMPH foster a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with our vision and goals. ERGs provide safe opportunities for employees to network, pursue professional and personal development and improve cultural understanding. Current ERGs offered include: African/African American/Black, Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander, BIPOC Residents and Fellows, LatinX, Military Service, QUILTBAG/LGBTQ+, and Women’s Leadership.

"Being a part of the Asian American Employee Resource Group (ERG) has allowed me a space to continue these efforts of cultural competency and how to better the environment within the hospital as well as for our patients. It allows for safe spaces that allow for discussion of shared experiences and discussions of anti-racism." - Michelle Hughes, MD, assistant professor and director of medical simulation

Our accomplished faculty and passionate clinical care teams are deeply committed to providing residents and learners with focused mentorship. We take pride in being a program that listens to residents and works collaboratively to make sure they get the best training tailored to their individual interests and career goals.

Chief resident Dr. Rudi Zurbuchen on her experience as a resident at UW: “The support of faculty and senior residents, along with comprehensive onboarding and training that spans the first five weeks of intern year fully prepared me to walk into my first rotations outside of the emergency department. The 'cherry on the top' of the program is the phenomenal teaching and mentorship I've received from UW faculty during my shifts in the ED."

Similarly, our faculty are steadfastly committed to mentoring learners outside our immediate department and serving as role models for medical students and postgraduate learners from across the UW-Madison campus and beyond. For example, Dr. Ryan Tsuchida, assistant professor of emergency medicine and DEI newsletter editor, serves as a mentor for the Building Equitable Access to Mentorship (BEAM) program at the UW SMPH, an evidence-based mentoring program that leverages the experience and expertise of SMPH faculty members to provide culturally aware mentorship to first-year medical students.

Dr. Mary Westergaard, associate professor and vice chair of education, was also appointed this year as one of five House Mentors for SMPH’s Academic and Career Advising Program. In her role as McPherson House Mentor, Dr. Westergaard works to promote personal and professional development and academic success across the medical school curriculum for a cohort of UW SMPH students.

In 2017, the UW Health GME programs formed a Diversity and Inclusion Task Force to assess how the programs perform in the areas of early outreach, inclusive environment and recruitment and selection. Previous projects have included the preparation and presentation of a robust summary report identifying diversity & inclusion “best practice” recommendations for GME programs at UW Health. Representatives from the Department of Emergency Medicine helped to found this school-wide task force, as well as founding and co-chairing the GME Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee.

DEM faculty hold institutional leadership roles in the DEI space, including co-chair of the Graduate Medical Education Committee DEI Subcommittee and SMPH/UW Health DEI Community of Practice, Deputy Director of the UW-Madison Center for Health Disparities Research (CHDR), and Associate Director for Faculty Development for the UW CHDR.

Providing compassionate and equitable patient care

"We work on a multidisciplinary team that helps us to care for patients of various vulnerable populations, ensuring that they receive consistent, equitable care every time they may visit the emergency department. We provide regular education to our ED staff to recognize disease-specific stigmas and our own subconscious biases and how to best overcome them to care for the patients we serve."

Hani Kuttab, MD, Assistant Ultrasound Director
Working toward health equity

“We believe that improving health equity begins with critically reflecting on existing structural inequities that lead to differences in care. In that spirit, we are focused on integrating a health equity lens across the departmental missions of education, research, and patient care. Learners and trainees at all levels are an essential component in this equation, and we are committed to providing the necessary sponsorship to help them thrive in our community and grow into future health equity leaders.”

Ryan Tsuchida, MD, Assistant Professor
Cultural competency curriculum

"We recognize the importance of cultural humility in our role as emergency physicians, as well as the importance of establishing enduring connections with our community. We incorporate cultural competency training into our didactic curriculum in order to equip residents with the knowledge and skillset to best meet the needs of vulnerable patient populations. By focusing on stereotyping and implicit biases, health disparities and cross-cultural communication, we instill in our residents a lifelong commitment to providing equitable patient care, understanding and addressing social determinants of health, and combating systemic racism."

Aaron Kraut, MD, Residency Program Director

>> Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Partners

At UW and UW Health, we strive for equity and are committed to being allies, to being anti-racist, and to hold one another accountable, while being open and respectful. Our work goes far beyond what we are able to list on this page, and we invite you to explore new and ongoing initiatives, alliances, conferences, courses, and other activities that serve our community in support of equity and inclusivity.

>>Our ongoing work to turn concepts into practice

We understand the difficulties residency applicants may face in deciding how well they will fit into a particular program, or in deciphering the aptitude of a program's cultural competency curriculum or the earnestness with which a program is working to reduce bias and systemic injustices within its own walls and beyond.

Community is the basis of our residency program, and we strongly welcome and encourage all residents to become involved in anti-racism initiatives through whatever means most resonate with them. We are a community that engenders innovation, and we will provide you with the tools and means to address racism and other contributors to healthcare disparities, whether through getting involved with ongoing efforts such as those listed above or by developing novel approaches, quality improvement projects, or research.

Have questions about our diversity, equity and inclusion mission or how residents are able to get involved? Connect with our Program Director, Dr. Aaron Kraut, by email at askraut@medicine.wisc.edu.