History of the center

The formation of the MGH Psychiatry Center for Diversity was inspired by the creation of the hospital-wide MGH Diversity committee in 1997.

The hospital-wide MGH Diversity committee transitioned from being a Board of Trustees subcommittee to a separate committee in its own right in 1997, when MGH President Dr. James Mongan presented a hospital-wide diversity initiative to the MGH department chiefs.  Dr. Mongan led the MGH Diversity Committee from 1997-2003, and passed on leadership to MGH’s current president, Dr. Peter Slavin and Dr. David Torchiana, the MGPO CEO in 2003.

In 1998, in a response to Dr. Mongan’s diversity initiative, Dr. Ned Cassem, the MGH Psychiatry Department Chair, convened the MGH Psychiatry Diversity Committee.  The Department of Psychiatry to this date is the only department to create a formal committee dedicated to diversity issues.  Former chairs have included Dr. David Henderson (1998-2002), Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum (2002), and Dr. Gregory Fricchione (2002-2007).  Dr. Ranna Parekh (2007- ) has served as the chair of the committee and has been named the Director of the Center for Diversity..

The Psychiatry Diversity Committee Summary report of 2002 outlined accomplishments of the Diversity committee to date.  At the time, the focus of the committee was multifold: to address diversity issues in trainee recruitment and trainee curriculum, staff recruitment and staff education, and patient diversity.  Issues highlighted in the report included:

  1. Trainee recruitment: since its inception, the diversity committee tracked and discussed trends in trainee recruitment, and made an effort to attract underrepresented minority medical students to its psychiatry training program. 
  2. Trainee curriculum: the diversity committee conducted a survey in 2002 which showed that trainees felt understanding issues of difference were important, but they felt it was not integrated into the didactic curriculum.
  3. Department survey: was created by Dr. Estee Sharon to understand staff diversity. However, it had a 22% response rate.
  4. Psychiatry Grand Rounds: Dr. David Mischoulon brought speakers with expertise in diversity issues to increase awareness.
  5. Psychiatry Patient Diversity: Initially, accurate data regarding patients was lacking, but more data from 1997-2002 showed that 14% of patients on the inpatient unit were from minority backgrounds and 7% of outpatients were from minority backgrounds.
  6. Senior Staff Recruitment: The diversity committee identified specific challenges of diversifying staff: the department culture of hiring graduating trainees, rather than casting the net wider, and often limited funds to hire diverse staff.

  With the change in leadership in 2007, Dr. Ranna Parekh convened the Diversity Committee Retreat in June 2008 to discuss the past, present and future of the MGH Psychiatry Diversity Committee.  Seventeen Diversity Committee members attended, as well as members of the Psychiatry Leadership.  Two main areas were covered:

  1. Elena Olson, JD from the Multicultural Affairs Office, Deborah Washington, RN from Patient Diversity Services, and Allison Rimm, the Vice President of Strategic Planning presented findings from the hospital-wide MGH Diversity Committee Retreat in 2006. 
  2. In addition, Allison Rimm led the committee through a strategic planning exercise, exploring with the committee to:
  • Refine its guiding principles,
  • Refine its mission and vision statements
  • Engage in a  SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)
  • Re-examining its goals. 

Products from the June 2008 retreat included a refined set of guiding principles and goals.

Guiding Principles: “What are we about?”

  • Honesty
  • Transparency: openness and accountability
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Safety: creating a safe environment for expression and learning
  • Commitment: holding hospital leadership accountable
  • Self Awareness


Goals set by the MGH Diversity Committee at this retreat included:

  1. Ensuring Psychiatry Diversity Committee representation on MGH Diversity Committee
  2. Obtaining support for Psychiatry Diversity Committee initiatives from department
  3. Working with Harvard Medical School regarding faculty education on diversity
  4. Providing orientation for new department members on diversity issues
  5. Defining cultural competency/sensitivity
  6. Making diversity a part of General Medical Education (GME) orientation
  7. Creating exit interviews for trainees/employees
  8. Incorporating multicultural views into clinical/research practice<
  9. Conducting a faculty survey about awareness of diversity issues
  10. Involving Chief of Psychiatry in recruitment/retention efforts of staff of diverse backgrounds
  11. Tracking faculty/patient diversity trends
  12. Exploring patient satisfaction surveys


State of the Center for Diversity today:

  • Fostering Active Membership and Participation

      -Ensuring Diverse representation: trainees, directors, junior/senior faculty, staff,     clinicians, researchers

      -Attendance/participation strongly encouraged

  • Recruitment of diverse trainees

–        Student National Medical Association recruitment letter to underrepresented minority medical students

–        Cross-collaboration with Visiting Clerkship program, Multicultural Affairs Office,  and Training Directors

–        Including Trainees /Training Directors on Diversity Committee

–        Breakfast with underrepresented minority applicants revisiting MGH or interested in Psychiatry


  • Fostering Education of MGH faculty and staff

–        Spring Diversity Speaker Series

–        Frances Bonner MD award

–        Collaboration with Harvard Medical School, Multicultural Affairs Office

–        Inviting speakers to Committee meetings

–        Creating a Reading Room on the committee website


  • Understanding Staff and Patient Demographics through the

      - Staff survey subcommittee

      - Research patient statics, subcommittee


  • Enhancing Communication about diversity issues

–        Webpage/IT subcommittee

–        Relationship building through hospital and outside organizations


  • Strengthening Partnerships/Collaborations

–        Student National Medical Association

–        Harvard Medical School

–        McLean Hospital

–        MGH Diversity Committee

–        MGH Disparities Solution Center

–        MGH Multicultural Affairs Office

–        MGH Patient Diversity Services

–        Harvard University Health Services


  • Ensuring Accountability through

–        Subcommittee reports

–        Biannual report to Chair of Department/Leadership

–        MGH Diversity Committee (Action Plan, Presentation in Jan, 2011)

–        Annual presentation/visit by Department Chair to membership meeting



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