Activities to learn more and support the community are planned for Diversity Week 2023


This week, March 27-31, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine will host a series of informative events to celebrate its fourth annual Diversity Week. Several MSUCOM students have planned a series of events, covering topics from disability awareness to caring for pediatric patients and disparities, along with the college’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

Megan McGrath, a D.O.-Ph.D. student and OMS-I with MSUCOM and one of the student organizers, sees the week of events as the opportunity to “generate discussions around some of the more nuanced aspects of medicine and reminding us that equality is not the same as equity. Many of the events this year are looking at the unique considerations of certain patient populations and are designed to ask students, staff and faculty to critically engage with some of their own biases.”

Diversity Week provides a platform for students to discuss and promote a variety of issues important to them and in their careers.

“We have carefully selected this week’s topics and have worked hard to make them interactive so that participants are able to get the most out of Diversity Week,” said Abril Rodriguez, OMS-II. “We will be able to hear from patients themselves in some of our events and will get to hear about the healthcare system from their perspective.”

One of the interactive events for disability awareness will include finding the Spartan helmet around the MSUCOM website on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Once found, the helmet can be clicked on which will take participants to an interactive discussion board regarding disability awareness.

In addition, the event around rare diseases will provide insight that the team hopes will benefit MSUCOM’s future physicians, as well as the rest of the community. “We have a panel of patients with rare disease(s) and family members who will help us understand their experiences with healthcare providers,” said Anhdao Tran, OMS-IV. “They are willing to answer difficult questions and guide us on how to better the patient-provider relationship and reduce harm.”

Reducing harm is also part of the focus on food insecurity during this year’s Diversity Week.
The group is partnering with the MSUCOM’s Detroit Street Care, Spartan Street Medicine and Macomb County Street Medicine. The three sites will compete to raise the most food. Donations may also be made directly to the Street Care/ Street Medicine clubs at their site.

“One of the things we talked about early on in planning this year was the importance of food,” McGrath said. “There is so much cultural significance around food across a vast range of traditions and religions. And during this discussion, Dr. Sina (Reddog Sina, D.O. and associate professor in the Department of Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine), also reminded us that for many, including many here in our home of Michigan, food is a scarcity.”

She continued, “In Ingham County alone in 2020, the food insecure population was 38,760. A disproportionate number of those facing food insecurity belonged to racial minorities (data from Feeding America),” McGrath said. “How can we expect our patients to be active participants in their health, if their most basic needs are not being met? This is why we chose our local food banks, to try and help our own community in our own back yard.”

The week of events will culminate with an informal dinner where students will be able to meet with other students, faculty and staff for open discussions.

The following events planned for the week are open to MSUCOM affiliates, pre-college and admitted students by joining and using the passcode, Diversity.

7 p.m., Monday, March 27: Rare Disease Panel

One in 10 patients in the U.S. have a rare condition (~30 million). Often, these patients have negative experiences with health professionals because their concerns are ignored or their rare diseases are poorly understood, leading to delayed diagnosis, mistrust and/or poor outcomes, including near misses and adverse events. Insight into their health care experiences may provide tools to combat these health inequities.

12 p.m., Tuesday, March 28: Caring for pediatric patients, disparities

Jessica Heselschwerdt, M.D., a member of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at MSUCOME will give a talk on pediatric LGBTQIA+ patients, including health disparities and discrimination.

At 7 p.m., there will be a volunteer panel of transgender and gender diverse patients who will share their stories and answer questions related to their experience of navigating health care as a transgender and/or gender diverse person.

6 p.m., Thursday, March 30: Disability Awareness session

Help Sparty find his helmet! Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a Spartan helmet icon hidden somewhere on the MSUCOM website. If you find it, click on it to figure out why Sparty keeps losing his helmet, and engage with a conversation on what it means to have a disability, especially when it's not always immediately visible. On Thursday, there will be a guided and honest conversation about disabilities with information and resources for students to foster deeper understanding and empathy.

All Day, Friday, March 31:  Food Insecurity Service Event

A competition that benefits the community will be held during the entire week. The Diversity Week Committee is working with Detroit Street Care, Spartan Street Medicine and Macomb County Street Medicine to host the weeklong food drive for those in the communities served by the street medicine/care teams. The campus that earns the most points will earn a prize. The winner will be announced on Monday, April 3.

4 p.m. Friday, March 31: Transforming Medicine through Intersectionality and Patient Advocacy: Food and Fellowship

Reflections on the theme of Diversity Week will be shared by Margaret Aguwa, D.O., and former MSUCOM associate dean – along with other panelists including MSUCOM alumni who are now residents and current students – will join the event sharing stories and participating in panel discussion of their experiences. Packaged dinner will be provided at each site with limited space. Please RSVP to join at one of MSUCOM’s three sites. In Detroit, the event will be in DMC-G028, in East Lansing it will be at C-102-Patenge room, and in Macomb, the event will be at MUC-UC3 209. Packaged meals will also be provided for those observing Ramadan.


Zoom: The meeting ID is: 928 7727 5056, and passcode is Diversity.