UA Students Promote Diversity Awareness in Medicine

To engage community and raise awareness of the importance of diversity and disparity in health care, both within the University of Arizona Health Sciences and in Tucson, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson medical student leaders have launched Diversity Month in January.   

The UA College of Medicine –Tucson Student Diversity Advisory Committee – made up of representatives from the college’s African American, Asian Pacific American and Latino Medical Student Associations; Association of Native American Medical Students; MedPride student club and Student National Medical Association – have joined together to raise cultural competence among their UAHS peers who represent the future of health care.

The students, who are working with the UA College of Medicine – Tucson Office of Admissions and the UAHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion, said that Diversity Month is a collaborative effort to raise awareness of health disparities caused by a lack of training and the lack of diversity in the physician and health-care workforce.

“Health disparities continue for many reasons, but lack of training and lack of diversity in the physician workforce serve to maintain these disparities. In that vein, Diversity Month aims to highlight the University of Arizona programming that encourages discussion and the work our faculty and students do to promote cultural competence. It is a time to appreciate the importance of this work and the work our members do,” said Ruth “Rory” Aufderheide, a second-year medical student, MedPride president and chair of the Student Diversity Advisory Committee. “Diversity in medicine makes a more powerful and effective medical community.”

The medical students’ Diversity Month community activities already have included a community park clean-up on Jan. 10 at Catalina Park on 4thAve. Upcoming events include blood pressure screenings on Sunday, Jan. 17, 10:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m., at the First Assembly of God Church, 1749 E. Broadway Blvd., Tucson, and a Zumba class at El Pueblo Neighborhood Center, Building 9, 101 W. Irvington Rd., Tucson (date and time to be announced; for information, please email

In activities targeting peers at the UA Health Sciences, all health sciences students are invited to a microaggressions (unconscious bias or social snubs) talk at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 19, in UA College of Medicine-Tucson Room 3117; a Diversity in Medicine talk at noon on Thursday, Jan. 21, in UA College of Medicine-Tucson Room 2117; and an Indian Health Service lunch talk at noon on Friday, Jan. 29, in UA College of Medicine-Tucson Room 3116. (A SafeZone Facilitator Training, a LGBT allies course that creates a network of support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender population, was held Jan. 11.)

Creating a diverse health-care workforce representative of the population it serves is a priority for Joe G.N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences. In a recent address to the Arizona Board of Regents, he noted that in order to successfully reduce Arizona’s significant health disparities and improve community health throughout the state, the border region, nationally and internationally, UAHS is working to become a national leader in health sciences training of a diverse faculty, staff, student body and health-care workforce.