New Group at UTHSC Aims to Spread Message of Health Equity

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The new Health Justice Collective at UTHSC will amplify the message of equity in health care across the campus and the community.

Tim Dotson, a standardized patient/simulated patient trainer in the Center for Healthcare Improvement and Patient Simulation (CHIPS) at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, recently completed the Diversity Certificate Program from the Office of Equity and Diversity (OED), and wanted to continue the conversation around diversity, equity, and inclusion on campus and in the community.

He was not alone. Tiffinie Snowden, associate inclusion officer in OED, felt the same way, as did others at UTHSC.

They came together to form the Health Justice Collective (HJC), a new group of faculty, staff, and students, who aim to amplify the message of health equity, social justice, and unbiased health care.

As a collective, there are no designated leaders. Membership is voluntary and open to anyone on campus. Each member shares in the decision-making as to how the group will proceed.

“I would say that we are a collective grouping of people with like minds, who want to see health justice not only brought to the forefront, but to do our part in making that happen,” Dotson said. “I think that from different areas, we have different perspectives on the matter, and bringing it together, I think is hopefully going to inspire others to want to join the fight.”

Though still in its early stages, the collective is planning several initiatives, including:

  • Producing short video interviews with UTHSC faculty, staff, students, and community members telling their own stories related to justice in health care. These videos, which are part of a project titled, “You Can’t Spell Memphis Without ME,” will be posted to the collective’s website and social media channels.
  • Offering health equity/justice facts on the website
  • Putting on and supporting campus and community events related to equity, justice, and diversity

“We will also try to culminate with something like a speaker series, where we’ll bring awareness to particular health justice topics, such as access to health care,” Dotson said.

An actor and poet, Dotson developed the “You Can’t Spell Memphis Without ME” concept as a way to spread the group’s message through many voices. “We hope to be able to do interviews of people on our campus. This may let us bring some of those personal accounts of disparity and denial of access, as a way for our new generation, our new learners of health care, to be more cognizant of those things, so they can help us create change,” he said.

Michael Alston, EdD, CCDP/AP, assistant vice chancellor for Equity and Diversity and chief diversity officer at UTHSC, said OED is a campus sponsor of the Health Justice Collective. “Their work aligns with UTHSC’s commitment to improve the health of all Tennesseans, based on concepts like health equity, social justice, and unbiased health care,” he said. “Moreover, we understand from the HJC that an individual’s lack of power and resources affects health-related decisions, as well as how identities and experiences influence access to health care.”

Go to the Health Justice Collective’s website, to learn more or to join.