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Infusing medical training with cultural humility and understanding

Dr. Charles Vega is associate dean of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion
UC Irvine Health
Dr. Charles P. Vega, associate dean for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, has been working in Vietnamese and Spanish-speaking communities in Orange County for more than two decades.

A message from Associate Dean Charles P. Vega, MD

Diversity and inclusion have always been important and intrinsic themes in my life and professional career. Diversity without inclusion equals intolerance, and that is unacceptable.

Our mission at UC Irvine School of Medicine’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to create not only a diverse student body that reflects our patient population, but also to build values of cultural humility and communication that will serve our medical students for a lifetime.

Make no mistake, Orange County is a diverse community, home to one of the largest per capita Spanish-speaking communities in the nation in Santa Ana, and the largest U.S. concentration of people of Vietnamese descent outside Vietnam, clustered mainly in Garden Grove, Westminster and Santa Ana.

These are the patients with whom I have seen and shared many joyous moments over my 20 years as a family doctor at UC Irvine. It is this respectful and caring relationship between patient and caregiver that serves as our guide in creating programs in diversity and inclusion.

We have invested substantially in these programs. Our office manages the Diversity and Inclusion curriculum, which uses active learning principles in case-based discussions and United States Medical Licensing Examination-style questions.

Diversity is part of every clinical encounter. Therefore, we do not teach it in a single course. The themes of diversity and inclusion are instead woven throughout the entire medical school curriculum, reinforcing their value.

We also have strong and highly visible outreach and pipeline programs to promote better health and inspire the next generation of physician-leaders to treat not just individual patients, but whole communities as well.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is providing a more strategic approach to these efforts to maximize their impact and develop continuity with members of our community.

We have our work cut out for us. Diversity and inclusion is a moving target that requires consistent attention and effort. But the benefits are tremendous: more satisfied patients and healthcare providers as well as better medical outcomes.

These goals fuel our passion for diversity and inclusion at UC Irvine School of Medicine.