Published: February 1, 2021

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Otolaryngology: Our Pathway to the Future

I am a fierce advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that every individual should have an opportunity to feel valued and to thrive.

Carol R. Bradford, MD, MS AAO-HNS/F PresidentCarol R. Bradford, MD, MS
AAO-HNS/F President
“In diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” 
– Maya Angelou
Poet, author, and civil rights activist

I am a fierce advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I believe that every individual should have an opportunity to feel valued and to thrive. In addition, I believe that all should have access to high-quality, safe, and compassionate ear, nose, and throat care. 

Similarly, the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery strives to serve as a positive example of inclusive excellence, where all our members have the opportunity to thrive. We strive for a workforce that has parallel diversity to the communities we serve. We aspire to overcome healthcare disparities such that we can provide high-quality, equitable care to all. These are our aspirational goals.

We know that significant health disparities exist. Many scholarly articles have been written about the benefit of a diverse healthcare workforce to reduce healthcare disparities. The Ohio State Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion web page sums it up very nicely: “A diversity of cultures and life experiences strengthens our mission to provide evidence-based health care. It gives us a greater understanding and appreciation for each patient’s unique genetic makeup, behavior, experiences and beliefs.”

We know that the work ahead of us matters, and this work will require us to devote our talents, resources, and creativity to make a meaningful difference. I encourage you to explore the opportunities to make a difference by contributing to 125th anniversary fundraising initiative, 125 Strong Campaign. I am very grateful for our dedicated volunteers who worked to develop worthy projects. All of these initiatives are very worthy of your investment and all will make a huge impact on the future of our Academy. (See article, "#MakeOTOStronger: Become a Monthly Supporter of the 125 Strong Campaign" for more detailed information about the specific projects of the 125 Strong Campaign.)

I do want to highlight the initiatives put forward by the work group led by Dr. Angela Powell on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. These projects will deploy travel grants to address the pipeline and the Core Grant mechanism to do high-quality research on health equity outcomes in otolaryngology. 

As we reflect upon the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to our Academy and the communities we serve, I encourage you to take a few moments to commemorate the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his “I Have a Dream” speech. We are still pursuing the dream that he described so beautifully and eloquently on August 28, 1963. Let us work together to make this dream a reality. 

More from February 2021 – Vol. 40, No. 1