Innovative Ideas Fight Bias in Medicine

An IDEAS grant expands a novel training program for Tufts University School of Medicine faculty
A Black doctor in a white lab coat holding a stethoscope.

Vision without action, Nelson Mandela observed, is just daydreaming. For a decade, the Innovations in Diversity Education Awards (IDEAS) program at Tufts University School of Medicine has kept the focus on action, by helping faculty turn new concepts for advancing diversity, health care equity, and cultural competency into successful initiatives that often inspire further innovation. 

Case in point: the 2019 IDEAS grant awarded to Karen Freund to further the school’s anti-bias training. Freund, physician-in-chief at Tufts Medical Center (Tufts MC) and Sheldon M. Wolff Professor and chair of the Department of Medicine at the School of Medicine, focuses her research on improving care to under-resourced communities and understanding barriers facing groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine. After she brought novel anti-bias training to all divisions of the Tufts MC Department of Medicine, Freund envisioned extending that training to all School of Medicine and Tufts MC faculty. “The IDEAS grant provided a great opportunity for us to expand something unique and important to all departments,” Freund said.

The training, called Bias Reduction in Medicine (BRIM), developed and taught by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is unique in that it was created by academic physicians for other physicians and applies decades of research on behavioral change strategies. The program trains facilitators who can then teach their peers, tailoring the program for different audiences. When leading training sessions, Robert Sege, a clinical professor of medicine and co-director of stakeholder and community engagement at Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, often points to data showing clear bias in medical research.

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