Harvard Ophthalmology embraces diversity, equity, and inclusiveness as core values and imperatives that drive meaningful change within and beyond our institution. We welcome people from all backgrounds, and we respect and celebrate different points of view. It is important to us that everyone feels safe, valued, and engaged within our community.
Harvard Ophthalmology works closely with the Harvard Medical School Office of Diversity and Inclusion and all the organizations where trainees learn to foster a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment for trainees, employees, and our patient community.
Below are several ongoing initiatives that we have already undertaken over the past few years in these areas:
Initiatives in Leadership and Mentorship
- In February 2019, James Chodosh, MD, MPH, was selected as the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Harvard Ophthalmology. In this role, he works with different leadership groups in the hospital as well as our affiliate hospitals to identify inequities and implement new initiatives in the area of diversity and inclusiveness.
- Dr. Chodosh is our faculty department representative on the newly established Mass Eye and Ear’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, which is run by Aalok Agarwala, MD, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, and has hospital-wide representation.
- With Dr. Chodosh as the Ophthalmology Champion at Harvard Ophthalmology for the AAO/AUPO Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring (MOM) Program, our department joined the work of colleagues in the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology (AUPO) to increase the representation of minority groups in ophthalmology. A major goal of the MOM Program is to provide mentors to first- and second-year underrepresented medical students who have an interest in ophthalmology. A second goal is to help underrepresented third- and fourth-year students, who already know they want to study ophthalmology, assisting them with residency match and their early careers.
- Within our own department, Dr. Chodosh collaborates with Ankoor Shah, MD, PhD, Director of Ophthalmic Medical Student Education, and Alice Lorch, MD, MPH, Director of Ophthalmology Residency Training Program, to increase representation of URiM students in our training programs. The Residency Selection Committee undergoes unconscious bias training annually as part of this effort.
- A Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Diversity and Inclusion Committee was established in July 2020 by our residents. The first initiative of this group has been to create a near peer mentorship program, which pairs current Harvard Ophthalmology residents with HMS medical students who are under-represented in the field.
- A Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Wellness Committee was established in 2018 by our residents with faculty leadership. This committee has organized small group support sessions with a psychologist to help deal with stressors of trainees, due to professional or external factors. Individual sessions with a psychologist are also available to residents if needed.
Initiatives in Research and Clinical Care
- We are committed to one class of care and all our training programs have been structured for many years to reflect this. All trainees are fully integrated into the faculty practices both in the ambulatory clinic setting and the OR. We do not have separate resident clinics.
- Several of our faculty have ongoing projects on healthcare disparities: For example, Dr. Lorch is currently studying social determinants of Emergency Room access and Dr. Shah is investigating social determinants of outcomes in closed- and open-globe eye injuries.
- With support from the Mass General Executive Committee on Community Health, Dr. Lorch is establishing telemedicine screening programs in underserved communities. The ultimate goal of these programs is to provide subspecialty care effectively within community health centers as well as involve residents in community health and the use of telemedicine. These efforts are supported by a Telemedicine Fellowship (launched in 2020), which is directed by Dr. Lorch and David Friedman, MD, PhD, MPH.
- Mass Eye and Ear publishes clinical outcomes in all subspecialties in our annual Department of Ophthalmology Quality and Outcomes book. We have started to sub-analyze the same outcomes by demographic factors to identify disparities where statistically possible.
Initiatives in Education
- Harvard Ophthalmology launched the Scholars in Medicine program in the summer of 2021 for first-year medical students from underrepresented groups. The program offers an immersive experience in ophthalmology, where each scholar is paired with a research mentor and a clinical mentor in order to see all facets of the discipline. This is augmented with regular team meetings, faculty guest lectures, and the opportunity to work on a project that is publishable. This program was conceived and is run by Joseph Arboleda, MD, PhD, and Dr. Chodosh.
- Through the AAO Minority Ophthalmology Mentoring (MOM) program, our department annually sponsors HMS medical students and pre-medical students who are under-represented minorities to attend the AAO Annual Meeting.
- Through the HMS Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Program participates annually in the Harvard Affiliated Residency Programs Showcase for 3rd and 4th Year Medical Students from Groups Underrepresented in Medicine.
- Through the HMS Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Program annually sponsors pre-medical and medical students so they can present at the New England Science Symposium.
- In February 2020, the Harvard Ophthalmology Residency Program initiated a yearly dinner discussion that highlights the field of ophthalmology for Harvard Medical School under-represented in medicine students, to introduce students to the opportunities of ophthalmology and establish mentoring connections.
- In Summer and Fall 2020, Harvard Ophthalmology hosted two-week non-credit Virtual Rotations for medical students interested in more exposure to the field, particularly to those under-represented in medicine, or those lacking a home ophthalmology program.
- The department uses a biannual lecture series titled “Quality, Humanism, and Professionalism” to invite speakers on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusiveness. Recent speakers included Keith Carter, MD, Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Iowa, who spoke on diversity in ophthalmology programs and Joan Reede, MD, MPH, MS, MBA, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, who spoke on the history and importance of diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
As a department, we recognize that there is more work to be done in this area and are committed to listening as well as working with our faculty, trainees, patients, and affiliates to improve equity in our field.