The University of Florida is a large, multicultural academic community that is strongly committed to fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion. Through awareness, education, scholarship and advocacy, we are able to equip and empower members of the Gator Nation to serve as agents of positive change in the global community. Within the Department of Pediatrics at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and our affiliated clinics, we care for patients from a broad range of socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds from Gainesville, Alachua County, and the state of Florida at large.
Similar to other individuals and institutions across the nation, we have been disheartened and distressed by recent events and the loss of life of members of the Black community. We have used these events to serve as a necessary catalyst to examine our practices, curriculum, and culture. Read more about our response. Additionally, the Department of Pediatrics has created forums to discuss the lived experience of Black members of our Department and see this as a first step to increasing everyone’s knowledge and promoting meaningful change. You may find recordings of theses presentations on our Grand Rounds page.
As one of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, it is our responsibility to provide excellent care to each patient at our institution regardless of race, cultural background, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other identifying factor. To further that mission, the University of Florida is actively putting resources into strong leadership as well as innovative programming around recruitment, clinical care, education and research to ensure that we are employing and training a diverse group of faculty and residents to provide care in culturally sensitive and competent settings while delivering evidence-based care of the highest quality for all patients.
Chief Diversity Officer
Chief Diversity Officer, University of Florida
In 2018, the University of Florida named Antonio Farias as its inaugural Chief Diversity Officer, a cabinet-level position which closely advises the University President. Mr. Farias has an established track record in similar positions with Wesleyan College as well as with the US Coast Guard Academy and is charged with overseeing university wide efforts to advance diversity, equity and inclusion. He has already proven himself to be an invaluable resource and advocate for current and future efforts within the Department of Pediatrics.
Office for Diversity & Health Equity
Within the UF College of Medicine, the Office of Diversity and Health Equity provides leadership, support and education around minority affairs and inclusion. Read their statement on diversity. Their efforts include sponsorship of successful pipeline programs and a minority mentoring program. The office is led by Dr. Donna Parker, Associate Dean of Diversity and Health Equity and an alumna of the UF Pediatrics Residency program. Dr. Parker works in pediatric primary care as well as precepts in the resident continuity clinic. She and the rest of her staff have been mentors to countless students and residents.
- Women in Medicine and Science (WIMS)
- Housestaff Council – Including the Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion
Recruitment of Faculty and Residents
The University of Florida is committed to recruiting and retaining a diverse group of faculty to provide the best educational experience possible for its learners and to ensure culturally competent care for each and every patient. While we have not fully realized our goals, we are committed to continued progress and transparency as we further our efforts.
Within the UF Pediatric Residency Program, we consistently strive to recruit residents who reflect the diversity of the patients we serve. Thanks to a welcoming and inclusive environment within the university community and the greater city of Gainesville, our current complement of residents approaches that goal.
Introduction of a New Pipeline Program
Through collaboration with both our College of Medicine Office for Diversity & Health Equity and current under-represented in medicine (UIM) student leaders, some of whom are planning careers in pediatrics, we designed the UF Health, Department of Pediatrics PROSPECT (Promoting Retention of Students in Pediatrics through Engagement, Coaching and Training) Program. This program is modeled after the successful Academic Pediatric Association’s New Century Scholars Program and will provide opportunities for formal professional development for all parties (mentors and mentees). The primary goal of this program is to broadly support UIM students who intend careers in pediatrics throughout their medical school training by creating opportunities for them to engage in mentorship, research, clinical care and professional development activities with UIM faculty members. We believe PROSPECT will provide a strong foundation for their future success. Secondarily, we hope the relationships formed between our department faculty and these students will allow us to recruit these outstanding learners for pediatric residency positions, and ideally as faculty later in their career.
While we strive to provide culturally competent care regardless of clinic location or setting, we recognize the inherent value of structured clinical care opportunities for specific populations with unique needs. The following are just a couple of examples.
This program, housed within the UF Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, provides care for transgender and gender nonconforming youth and their families by providing education and clinical care for social and medical transitioning through interdisciplinary care with endocrinology, psychiatry and psychology. Residents within the Department of Pediatrics are able to rotate through this clinic to expand their knowledge of care for this population.
The Mobile Outreach Clinic is a flexible means of delivering health care to the medically underserved in low income neighborhoods and rural areas in and around Alachua County. The mobile clinic is housed in a large bus which includes two exam rooms, a lab and a waiting area. The clinic operates five days per week, and currently, one day each week is dedicated to serving pediatric patients. Pediatrics residents have found this clinic setting an excellent arena for worthwhile advocacy projects and clinical care.
Residents in our program receive targeted education on issues surrounding culturally competent care as well as diversity and inclusion throughout their time here. This instruction comes through experiential learning by caring for a diverse patient population as well as didactic education provided by experienced clinicians and faculty.
We are in the process of examining and revising all of our current curricula using the following framework:
We know that we are all learning as we proceed, and we will make mistakes; however, we commit daily to do our best to contribute to change.
The UF Health Disparities Research and Intervention Program is a collaboration with the College Liberal Arts and Sciences housed within the College of Medicine. Its mission is to eliminate health disparities by promoting health and well-being among racial/ethnic minorities, the poor and the underserved by focusing on health problems that disproportionately impact these groups. One such health problem that is currently receiving the program’s focus is obesity. Through innovative research and community partnerships, the program is seeking to find evidence-based interventions to address this growing epidemic.