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Structural Accountability

Meet the DEI Committee

From left to right: Robert Roswell, MD; Alicia Fernandez, MD; Bernard Jaar, MD; Bruce Leff, MD; Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN.

In August 2020, ABIM’s Board of Directors established its first ever and permanent Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), appointing Robert O. Roswell, MD as Chair. In addition to his role on ABIM’s Board, Dr. Roswell is Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell where he also serves as Associate Professor of Science Education & Cardiology. He also serves as the Associate Cardiology Fellowship Director and Co-Director of the Cardiology Intensive Care Unit at Lenox Hill Hospital.

The DEI Committee—comprised of ABIM Governance members representing the Board of Directors, ABIM Council, Exam Committees and the ABIM Foundation’s Board of Trustees—will be responsible for ensuring ABIM’s programs, including assessments are fair, equitable and free of bias.

Read our Statement on Racial Justice >>

Originally published on the ABIM Blog on June 5, 2020

We, the leaders of the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) and the ABIM Foundation, unite with our colleagues, practitioners, and partners within the medical community to decry the police brutality, racist violence and underlying structural, systemic and cultural racism that have had an impact on every aspect of life in our country.

Like tens of millions of Americans, we watched the killing of George Floyd in police custody. We also see the devastating and disproportionate toll that COVID-19 has taken on Black and Brown communities, which have seen far higher rates of infection, death and unemployment, facts that vividly demonstrate the structural inequity in our society and in our health care system.  

As leaders within the medical community aware of implicit bias, we need to accept and understand our own roles in creating the current reality. A medical model that focuses only on the characteristics of a virus and ignores the constructed social world through which the virus spreads is insufficient and must be expanded. 

It’s simply not enough to say passively we will “do no harm”; we pledge actively to do our part in opposing and dismantling systems and policies that cause harm to our patients and disproportionately affect those in Black and Brown communities.

As a physician certifying organization, ABIM commits to analyze our programs for potential disparate impact on racial or ethnic minority candidates, be transparent about the results and address any inequity to which we may be contributing.  

The ABIM Foundation has focused on the impact of trust on health care. We will  devote our 2020 Virtual Forum to gaining a deeper understanding of how historically merited distrust in the health care system among Black and Brown communities has contributed to disparities, and what can be done to earn back that trust. We commit to identifying and spreading promising solutions.

Our oath is to preserve and protect lives regardless of race, creed, gender, or color. We must accept the sobering fact that the present reality speaks to a collective organizational failure. 

We commit to do all we can to eliminate racism, its underlying roots of power and privilege, and its impact within our organizations, our communities, and our country. 

Since its formation, the DEI Committee has been focused on the following important conversations:

  • Oversight of the Collection of Race and Ethnicity Data
  • Evaluating ABIM Assessments for Fairness
  • Re-Evaluating the Use of Race and Ethnicity Identifiers in Exam Questions
  • Incorporating Health Equity Content in ABIM Assessments

Pamela Browner White

Pamela Browner White

Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer

Lorna Lynn, MD

Lorna Lynn, MD

Executive Sponsor of DEI Operations

ABIM Staff Commitments

In September 2020, ABIM named Pamela Browner White as its first ever Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. Ms. White, who has served as ABIM and ABIM Foundation’s Senior Vice President of Communications since 2016, is leading efforts to advance ABIM’s commitment to be a diverse, antiracist, equitable, and inclusive organization.

She is responsible for setting and implementing an overarching vision of diversity, equity, and inclusion for ABIM and ABIM Foundation. Ms. White will also support the work of the DEI Committee led by Dr. Roswell, together with Lorna Lynn, MD, ABIM’s VP for Medical Education Research.

ABIM as a Workplace

In order for ABIM to move forward effectively with its external work, it needed to develop an DEI infrastructure that supports ongoing efforts in creating an inclusive, psychologically safe workplace culture that attracts and retains talented employees who know how to work effectively on diverse teams.

In the fall of 2020, Ms. White established an interim DEI Organizing Committee for jumpstarting internal, staff-directed work at ABIM. This group comprised of ABIM staff representing multiple departments from Human Resources, Information Technology, Assessment & Research, Communications and more. This committee supported the CDEIO in:

  • Developing a Request for Proposal to select an external DEI consultant
  • Selecting and onboarding for the DEI consultant
  • Establishing bias Training for ABIM’s Senior Leadership Team, and
  • Inviting professionals in the health equity space to speak with ABIM Staff and Governance.

In the spring of 2022, the DEI Taskforce was created as a permanent commitment to maintaining a diverse and inclusive workplace. This Taskforce consists of a number of voluntary, cross-functional staff who ensure that a DEI lens is applied to decision-making processes across the organization. This group of DEI ambassadors will serve two-year terms, allowing for fresh voices to join the Taskforce on a regular basis. The Taskforce will provide counsel and support on our efforts to guide the development and implementation of the ABIM DEI Strategic Plan.

ABIM's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan

ABIM’s DEI Strategic Plan was designed to meet the commitments made by ABIM’s Board of Directors and ABIMF’s Board of Trustees in their initial anti-racism pledge from June 2020. Through the work outlined in this strategy, we seek to engage the broader healthcare community in a collective movement to address health disparities and health equity and support long-term, sustainable change that fosters a reality where everyone is treated with dignity and respect and receive the highest quality of healthcare regardless of their background. This includes ABIM diplomates, boards, advisory members, and specialty committees.

ABIM Foundation's DEI Efforts

The ABIM Foundation also supports health equity and inclusion through grants, webinars and convenings. To learn more about the ABIM Foundation's DEI efforts, visit its webpage.