DEI Initiatives

2019 Spring URM GatheringPhoto taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Department of Pediatrics Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee organized working groups charged with identifying opportunities for change in two areas: health equity and recruitment, retention, and professional development.

Data gathered during this process led to the formation of a repository detailing ongoing initiatives within the Department of Pediatrics and in partnership with other departments across VUMC. Initiatives related to education, individual health, population health, patient experience, social determinants of health, and recruitment and retention processes are listed below. Each initiative is an opportunity to get involved and collaborate to maximize impact in diversity, equity, and inclusion in Pediatrics.

As a department, we strive to lead in advancing patient health equity and support recruitment, retention, and career advancement for those who are Under-represented in Medicine (URiM) while ensuring a safe and welcoming environment.

Click here to browse the VUMC Employee Resource Groups (ERGs).

Click here to visit the VUMC Office of Health Equity website.

Current DEI Initiatives

Please expand the sections below to learn more about our ongoing DEI initiatives.

  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    General Pediatrics Black History Tour of Nashville Rosemary Hunter This tour looks at some of the landmarks in the civil rights movement in Nashville and includes stops at Meharry, Fisk and TSU. Residents MacKenzie Wyatt and Kenji Tanaka are co-leading this educational project to evaluate the resident's learning on the local tour.
    General Pediatrics By Design Documentary Viewing with Advocacy Residents Rosemary Hunter Hold a Documentary night with the AC residents to review the "By Design" documentary describing the history of desegregation of Nashville schools
    General Pediatrics Educational Seminar on Childhood Poverty for Pediatric Residents Rosemary Hunter Institute a cross-institutional educational seminar on an online platform for pediatric residents on childhood poverty. Sponsored by the Association of Pediatric Program Directors and the Community Health and Advocacy learning community.
    General Pediatrics Health Literacy Learning Sessions Rosemary Hunter Hold two learning sessions with the Advocacy Community (AC) resident group about health literacy (Jan. 2022) and refugee/immigrant health issues (Aug. 2022)
    Neonatology NICU Social Determinants of Health Curriculum Uche Anani & Alex Muhar; Developing a fellow-driven curriculum on disparities and determinants of health faced by patients in the NICU. Format will include didactic + small group discussion and invited guests to discuss topics such as cultural differences surrounding breastfeeding, disability access for NICU families, and disparities faced by non-English speaking families.
    Neonatology Monthly NICU Health Equity Journal Club Uche Anani We have a monthly journal club where we discuss interesting articles and different forms of media that address health equity, diversity, and inclusion in neonatology and pediatrics.
    Critical Care Develop a DEI Curriculum for PICU Fellowship Isa Diaz Develop a DEI curriculum which will focus on DEI-related journal clubs, training on implicit bias, interpreter use, cultural awareness, and etc. for PICU fellowship.
    Hospital Medicine PHM DEI Working Group Gregory Plemmons & Dena Ibrahim; We have developed a year-long curriculum for our Hospital Medicine Division members incorporating books, articles, and podcasts to cover various topics related to health equity. There is a focus on a specific topic each quarter.


  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    Developmental Medicine Addressing Disparities in ASD Diagnosis using Direct-to-Home Telemedicine Tool: Evaluation of Diagnostic Accuracy, Psychometric Properties, and Family Engagement Laura Corona Families face barriers to accessing diagnostic assessment for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which disproportionately impacts families from racial/ethnic minority groups and families living in medically underserved communities. This study investigates a tele-assessment instrument for ASD in toddlers, with emphasis on psychometric properties, diagnostic accuracy, family satisfaction, and post-evaluation service access.
    Developmental Medicine Can a Novel Telemedicine Tool Reduce Disparities Related to the Identification of Preschool Children with Autism? Zachary Warren Project will create a new tool for identifying preschoolers with autism via telemedicine. It will be co-designed in partnership with families, providers, and assessment experts to target typically underserved populations at-risk for delayed identification and service.
    Developmental Medicine Improving Screening and Referral Procedures for Children At-Risk for Autism Jeff Hine Increasing ASD screening and referral procedures at 18- and 24-month well-child visits. This project will increase the use of the Level 2 screening tool and Family Navigation for appropriate referrals.
    Developmental Medicine Post-ASD Diagnosis PCP Follow-up Laleh Bahrami Increasing follow-up within the medical home for children with a new diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. A quality improvement initiative using an eStar-embedded template.
    General Pediatrics Family Center Seminars Rosemary Hunter The Family Center’s "First 3!" series was developed to teach parents about the importance of the first 3 years in their child’s brain development. Residents are trained by Dr. Hunter on the content of the talk and provide at least four seminars. Parents in the 37208 zip code are enrolled in seminars.
    Neonatology Discharge Toolkit for Non-English Speaking Families Uche Anani & Genesis Licona;  To increase discharge readiness in families with limited English proficiency in the VUMC NICU, developing and implementing a discharge teaching bundle for Spanish and Arabic-speaking families.
    Neonatology, General Pediatrics Firefly Stephen Patrick & Anna Morad; Firefly combines prenatal and postpartum care with treatment for opioid use disorder for women facing the dual challenge of pregnancy and recovery in Middle Tennessee. Participation in the program is free.
    Hospital Medicine Automated and Anonymous Food Resource Connection (patient health equity) Cristin Fritz In collaboration with Clinical Informatics Core and REDCap Data Core, we are developing a texting platform that will automatically provide food resources to families that screen positive for Food Insecurity through a text that includes a database search tailored to their home ZIP code and specific food resource information.
    Hospital Medicine Advocacy Guide for Children at VCH Charlotte Brown & Maya Neeley; VUSM students and VUMC pediatric physicians created a "Pediatric Advocacy Guide '' to advocate for patients. This electronic resource, available via QR code, covers insurance, language barriers, food and housing insecurity, and gender advocacy. Purpose is to assist caregivers with patient/family needs and to provide resources to best support them.


  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    Developmental Medicine Parent's Awareness of the Reason Why their Child is Referred to the Developmental-Behavioral Specialist and What Autism Means to Them Jenesis Yanez (Negron) A mixed, qualitative and quantitative, study measuring the awareness of referral to a specialist in the field of Developmental – Behavioral Pediatrics and the understanding of autism in Latino families.
    Developmental Medicine Black Families' Experiences of Autism Diagnosis: Preliminary Parent Feedback to Inform Culturally Competent Care Amy Weitlauf Partnering with Meharry Medical College to solicit feedback from Black and African-American families that will help increase cultural competence and accessibility of autism diagnostic and follow-up care.
    General Pediatrics Telehealth Equity Shari Barkin Assess telehealth use in the Vanderbilt Pediatric Primary Care DOT 8 location and collect data from 500 diverse patient families to assess their interest, use, facilitators, and barriers by diverse patient populations who have varying degrees of digital health literacy.
    Critical Care Medicine Improving Communication with Families in the PICU/PCICU Isa Diaz Develop a communication documentation to investigate any disparities that may exist in communication quantity or quality with patients who are limited in English proficiency in the PICU/PCICU.


  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    Developmental Medicine Tennessee Cares Network at Vanderbilt University Medical Center Amy Weitlauf Provide Family Navigation follow-up to newly diagnosed families and train community pediatricians and early interventionists in evidence-based practices to facilitate diagnostic access and post-diagnostic care in rural and medically underserved communities.
    Developmental Medicine Enhancing Public Health Surveillance of Autism Spectrum Disorder through the Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network Alison Vehorn The Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network is a program funded by CDC to collect data to better understand the number and characteristics of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities living in different areas of the United States.
    Developmental Medicine Pediatric Evaluation of Autism Characteristics (PEACh): Stakeholder Refinement and Implementation Planning for a Novel Tool to Identify ASD in Primary Care Liliana Wagner Refining, deploying, and evaluating the feasibility, acceptability, and accuracy of a novel tool (Pediatric Evaluation of Autism Characteristics [PEACh]) explicitly developed to support enhanced screening and rapid ASD diagnostic triage in primary care. PEACh supports non-specialist providers in rapid diagnostic decision-making for young patients with clear phenotypic profiles of ASD.
    Developmental Medicine Early Intervention Caregiver and Provider Support Services (EI CAPSS) Mary Fleck & Kathleen Simcoe; The EI CAPSS program partners with TEIS to address challenges with access to early diagnosis and intervention for autism for families of young children, particularly families from rural areas. This partnership provides access to tele-diagnostic evaluations for ASD and caregiver training, while also building the capacity of other providers.
    General Pediatrics Flu Vaccine Disparity Barron Patterson The Health Equity Flu Vaccine program develops strategies to increase flu vaccination rates for African-American patients within our system.
    General Pediatrics Mobile Flu Vaccine Elizabeth Williams   Mobile Flu Fighter project conducted 4 mobile flu sessions in communities that have lower flu vaccination rates according to data from Vanderbilt Pediatric Primary Care. At least 51 pediatric patients were vaccinated. We plan to evaluate impact on flu vaccine rates with data obtained through the end of March 2022.


  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    General Pediatrics Hiring with Intentionality of Diversity and Inclusion Shari Barkin Identify national approaches for hiring strategies to enrich diversity and share with the Office of Faculty Development by January 2022. Trial this approach with one candidate and report on experience to the Office of Faculty Development.
    Cardiology Equitable Recruitment Interview for Pediatric Cardiology Fellowship Adriana Bialostozky Re-evaluation of the current fellowship recruitment practices to strive for a more equitable and inclusive process.
    Hospital Medicine Meharry Medical Student Rotations Maya Neeley & Travis Crook; We aim to improve Meharry student experiences on our pediatrics clerkship through the following purposeful interventions: orientation to the learning environment, creating student-directed weekly goals to review during mid-rotation and end-of-rotation feedback, and providing faculty members learning resources to best support URM students in the learning environment. 
    General Pediatrics Anti-Racism Task Force Shani Jones & Jill Steigelfest; Invite representatives from organizations to speak on anti-racism for skills to apply in-clinic. Facilitate session on microaggressions with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and collect survey data on goals. Disseminate a 21-Day Racial Equity Challenge. Provide education on minoritized groups through posters, videos, and community events during corresponding heritage months.


  • Division Project Name Project Lead(s) Project Lead Email(s) Project Description
    General Pediatrics Patient Preference to Collect Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) Shari Barkin Conduct 6 focus groups with primary care patients on DOT 8 to solicit their input on how/if they would like to be asked about SDoH and what they expect/need from the health care system to address their responses.
    General Pediatrics Closing the Loop: Food and Nutrition Insecurity in Davidson County Head Start Families Shani Jones Complete 4 focus groups of Head Start employees and families by February 2022 to better understand the most prominent food and nutrition security-related challenges. Then create an infographic policy brief to summarize key findings and suggestions for policies to address these issues. 
    General Pediatrics WIC Referral Process Rosemary Hunter The WIC benefit is often under-utilized by WIC-eligible families. Integrating such a food resource into our clinic processes will improve WIC enrollment, participation, and potential nutrition health outcomes. We will focus on the 2 and 3 year old age groups. The referral cohort will be followed for two years.
    Neonatology Assessment of Food Security in the NICU Emily Coffman  
    Cardiology Identifying Social Determinants of Health that Influence the Transition from Pediatric to Adult Care for Patients with Fontan Circulation David Parra Patients with Fontan operation for single ventricle require follow-up into adulthood. Unfortunately, a reduced number of patients are seen in ACHD clinic, particularly those of racial and ethnic minorities. Through the pediatric Single Ventricle Clinic, we will identify their SDOH that may guide us to improve their transition into adult care.
    Emergency Medicine Using a QR Code to Connect Families to Food Resources - A Novel Tool for Addressing Food Insecurity in the Pediatric Emergency Department Britta Roach Posters containing a QR code with a direct link to food resources via the website were created and displayed in the PED. The number of unique scans is being tracked and compared to PED volumes. Next steps include expansion of the posters to the pediatric inpatient floor. This approach was first rolled-out in General Pediatrics on DOT 8.
    Hospital Medicine Inpatient Food Insecurity Screening Cristin Fritz We are screening all patients admitted to PHM teams on the 7th floor for Food Insecurity using the 2 hunger vital signs and using QI methodology to understand and improve our process.