Celina Brunson, MD, Selasie Q. Goka, MD, Kahleb D. Graham, MD, and Bernarda Viteri, MD, sit down for a roundtable discussion on recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce from a trainee perspective.
What brought you to CHOP?
Bernarda Viteri, MD (BV): I accepted the opportunity to pursue a master’s in translational research at the University of Pennsylvania while conducting NIH-grant-funded research in the area of renal imaging and performing clinical duties as a pediatric nephrologist. I wanted to work at a highly ranked academic institution with distinct and vast resources, in a risk-taking, innovative and inquisitive department that constantly seeks to improve pediatric medicine.
Celina Brunson, MD (CB): I did the majority of my pediatric training in New York, and I looked at many different [fellowship] programs around the U.S. It was important to me to choose a hospital with diversity in patient and disease type, a great academic background, and was also within an urban setting. CHOP hit all of these marks for me.
Selasie Q. Goka, MD (SG): One of the strengths of this department is the breadth of training programs offered — it means we are able to learn from trainees in other fields, which enriches our own training. I feel I am getting exposure that will allow me to adapt well in any future job.
Kahleb D. Graham, MD (KG): I chose CHOP because, in my opinion, it’s the best pediatric GI fellowship training program in the country. My fellowship has afforded me great mentorship for scholarship and research. I’ve had protected time to spend on a T-32, which has allowed me to develop a national reputation. I’ve also been able to receive additional training in pediatric integrative medicine here at CHOP.
How does the Department of Pediatrics prioritize diversity?
BV: The department hosts events that highlight its diversity, different cultures and ethnicities. It also shares the institutional data on diversity within each department and future goals to enhance it.
SG: I have witnessed more talk around the topic of diversity lately. There is a concerted effort to ensure that diverse applicants at the resident level are able to meet trainees of a similar background. This helps to improve our recruitment efforts.
CB: I feel that the Multicultural Physicians’ Alliance (MPA) and the Alliance of Minority Physicians (AMP) are great examples of this effort. CHOP also offers opportunities as fellows to interact with the residents, specifically for me with MPA. I take part in workshops and events.
KG: Agreed. I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the executive board for the AMP for the past three years. I have noticed Angela Ellison’s presence in issues related to diversity and inclusion, which has led to positive and important programming. People of color have someone that looks like them to advocate for them at the highest levels
What should new trainees be excited for in the Department of Pediatrics?
SG: There is constant work in the Department of Pediatrics to improve the training experience at every level from research to QI to well-being. New trainees can be excited for the results of these efforts. I also appreciated the clear commitment of the department to train physicians to be well rounded — well versed not only in the subject matter of their field, but also knowing how to navigate the social aspects of patient care.
BV: New recruits should be excited about having a great network of mentors and colleagues from very diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise willing to help you succeed in your career and personal goals.
CB: Also they should be excited by the challenge that comes from the “zebras” [obscure conditions] that we see here at CHOP, as well as the collegial environment and the respect that colleagues have for one another. The Division of Nephrology has been an amazing place to learn and grow as a fellow.
KG: It’s an extremely high-level and demanding training that equips you to work in environments from the most basic to the most complex. It’s also an open community whose commitment to diversity improves every year.