UA College of Medicine – Tucson Earns 2016 Health Professions Diversity Award

Recognized for its commitment to diversity and inclusion in the health professions, the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson has been honored with INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s 2016 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award.

INSIGHT Into Diversity is the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. The Health Professions HEED Award is national honor recognizing U.S. medical, dental, pharmacy, osteopathic, nursing and allied health schools that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.

Requiring a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees, and best practices for both, the award also recognizes continued leadership support for diversity and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion.

“Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity. The UA College of Medicine – Tucson will be featured, along with 30 other recipients, in the December 2016 issue of the magazine.   

The UA College of Medicine – Tucson, the only Arizona college to be recognized by the publication, is a part of the University of Arizona Health Sciences (UAHS). The UAHS Office of Diversity and Inclusion is led by Francisco Moreno, MD, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion at UAHS and deputy dean of diversity and inclusion at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. UAHS houses or provides support for the diversity and inclusion programs at the health sciences campuses in Tucson and Phoenix.

“The UA College of Medicine – Tucson has been making significant progress to improve the diversity in the recruitment, education and training of our nation’s future physician-educators, practitioners, researchers and leaders thanks to the leadership of Dr. Moreno. Being recognized with the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for those efforts is an honor we will continue to expand upon throughout the UA Health Sciences,” said Joe G. N. “Skip” Garcia, MD, UA senior vice president for health sciences and Dr. Merlin K. DuVal Professor of Medicine.

Instrumental in advancing diversity and inclusion across the health sciences campuses, Dr. Garcia has dedicated resources and made it a priority to diversify the two UA medical schools as well as the faculty, staff and students of the UA Colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health. The commitment includes creating research and advancement opportunities for diverse faculty members and students within UAHS and across the nation.

“We are honored for the recognition of our commitment to diversity and inclusion and our work to create awareness of the opportunities in health care. It is particularly encouraging to see our efforts being acknowledged at a national level and we look forward to continued progress on this important endeavor, aimed at improving health for everyone,” said Dr. Moreno.

UAHS has initiated or increased support for an array of diversity-and-inclusion programs specific to the UA Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix and its other health sciences colleges, for example:

  • The Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway (P-MAP) – Tucson program is a 12-week, full-time, medical school preparation program designed for Arizona students who faced socioeconomic disadvantages, are first-generation college attendees, and grew up in either a rural or U.S.-border region or are enrolled in a federally recognized American Indian tribe. Students accepted into the program who successfully complete the program and earn a Master of Science Degree in Cellular and Molecular Medicine are admitted into the medical school. More than 20 students have completed the program since its inception in 2014. Notably, at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, the Pathways Scholars Program saw its 2015 inaugural class of 10 students complete the program and gain admission into the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix Class of 2019. Ten new students completed their one-year graduate program and gained admission into the medical school in 2016.
  • The Navajo Nation Future Physicians’ Scholarship Fund is a new six-year agreement between the Navajo Nation Department of Diné Education and the UA Colleges of Medicine in Tucson and Phoenix to encourage more Navajo students to pursue careers as physicians. In addition, a five-year, $975,000 Indian Health Service grant supports the Native American Research and Training Center and its Arizona Indians into Medicine (INMED) program. The program recruits, supports and encourages American Indian and Alaskan Native students to enter and succeed in the health professions.
  • The UAHS Hispanic Center of Excellence has created several programs to improve the cultural competency of health-care providers serving Hispanic communities, including the Bilingual Medical Spanish/Cultural Competence Distinction Track, a training program for residents in the UA College of Medicine at South Campus graduate medical education program; the Bilingual Medical Spanish Distinction Track, which trains physicians to be culturally and linguistically competent to work as bilingual Spanish-English health-care providers; and the Global MedCats, a UA Study Abroad program, offers medical Spanish immersion programs in Mexico and Ecuador, in addition to programs in Costa Rica and Spain.
  • To increase faculty diversity in the biomedical sciences, the Faculty Fellows Mentorship training program supports 10 UAHS faculty members and the AZ-PRIDE Program trains and mentors seven junior faculty members from UAHS and early-career academics from other universities who are from under-represented minority backgrounds, including people with living disabilities.
  • Joining Med-Start and FRONTERA, an array of summer outreach programs aimed at diverse high school and undergraduate students, the Border Latino & American Indian Summer Exposure to Research program (BLAISER) provides a paid research internship for 10 underrepresented junior or senior college students from border-region universities majoring in STEM fields.

“Thanks to the strategic efforts of our diversity and inclusion team, the UA College of Medicine – Tucson has gained access to cultural awareness training opportunities and is enriched with insights and experiences of a diverse student, staff and faculty. These efforts better prepare our students to serve the health care needs across Arizona,” said Charles B. Cairns, MD, FACEP, FAHA, dean of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson.                

For more information about the 2016 Health Professions HEED Award, please visit