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Diversity at Emory School of Medicine

Why Talk About Diversity?

Diversity is a core value at Emory School of Medicine. The University mission statement challenges us to create a sense of “community and inclusion,” and the School of Medicine mission statement urges us to develop a “diverse group of students and innovative leaders in the biomedical science, public health, medical education, and clinical care.”

Diversity of race, ethnicity, age, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, culture, and life and work experience creates and enriches our unique community.  There is much evidence that diversity among healthcare workers is associated with better outcomes for patients and a superior educational experience for our students; therefore, it is our obligation to talk about diversity.  It is our obligation to seek opportunities for change.  It is our obligation to pursue new systems and policies that will support these important missions.

Multicultural Medical Student Affairs

Because of its commitment to increasing minority representation in medicine and biomedical research, Emory University School of Medicine created the Office of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs in 1986. While African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Americans make up 25 percent of the U.S. population, only 12 percent of students who graduate from the nation's medical schools are from these groups. In addition, only 6 percent of all practicing physicians are members of these minority groups. Emory understands that there is a need for a more diverse physician workforce and encourages medical school applications from students from these minority groups. The Office of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs offers programs of support and science enrichment that focus not only on current Emory medical students but on college, high school, and junior high school students as well.

Emory School of Medicine recruits minority applicants at colleges throughout the country. We encourage students to visit the campus and talk directly with members of the multicultural affairs office, members of the administration and faculty, and with Emory medical students.

Students accepted into School of Medicine 's first-year class are chosen based on academic achievement, fitness and aptitude for the study of medicine, and personal qualifications. The Admissions Committee considers each candidate on an individual basis. After enrollment, the multicultural affairs office helps with the needs of students and works directly with Emory University 's minority community.

Robert Lee, PhD, Associate Dean and Director of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs, joined the Emory Medical School administration in 1994. Dr. Lee has 35 years of experience in improving opportunities for minorities in medical education. He is former chair of the Minority Affairs Section of the Association of American Medical College's Group on Student Affairs and is one of the founders of the National Association of Medicine Minority Educators, Inc. Dr. Lee's work is intended to facilitate opportunities and advance the training and the careers of underrepresented minority students in the health professions. One of his most important roles is that of advocate and adviser.

Programs for minority students at Emory School of Medicine include:

Student National Medical Association (SNMA)

Emory University School of Medicine has a strong and active chapter of the Student National Medical Association, an organization with the goals of increasing the number of physicians serving minority and indigent communities and developing future minority health professionals. Emory SNMA members participate in Recruitment Day at local colleges and universities and host undergraduates visiting Emory School of Medicine. They also work with the Office of Multicultural Affairs to sponsor orientation for entering students, provide informal tutoring and academic support, sponsor social events and speakers, and sponsor a big brother/big sister program for entering students. In the Atlanta community, SNMA members talk with high school students interested in medical careers, work with local churches in coordinating health fairs, and volunteer with community organizations. In 1994 and again in 2001, the Emory SNMA chapter co-hosted the SNMA National Convention in Atlanta with Morehouse College .

Emory Revisited

Minority students who are accepted to the School of Medicine may return to campus in the spring before starting medical school. This is an opportunity for students to meet and talk with faculty and students and learn more about the School and its opportunities and available resources. This informal program provides additional information to candidates as they make their final decision about medical school.

Summer Science Academy

The Office of Multicultural Medical Student Affairs also sponsors a Summer Science Academy for high school students.  Students in grades 9-12 participate in a series of lectures, labs, and field experiences in the areas of human anatomy, neuroscience, embryology, environmental biology and human diseases. The experience is designed to heighten students’ interest in various scientific areas, introduce them to careers in the healthcare profession, and reinforce some fundamental principles of science.  The program is open to all students, but our target population is metro Atlanta students from underrepresented minority backgrounds.

The popularity of our program has grown over the years.  Since its introduction in 1994, the Summer Science Academy (formerly known as the Summer Science Discovery Camp) has increased enrollment from 8 to over 100 students.  A number of our participants return to the program for multiple summers and many have siblings that participate as well.  As a result of this program, we have formed many positive long- standing relationships with community schools, parents, church/civic organizations, and Atlanta area businesses. 

Counselors and teachers for our program are drawn from the ranks of Emory University medical, graduate, and undergraduate students.  Some counselors have taught in our program for numerous years.  Their long term involvement serves as a testament to the strength and appeal of the program. Emory University School of Medicine faculty and medical school alumni have also contributed through lectures and demonstrations.

Summer Science Academy Website

Support Programs

Tutorials and individual counseling are made available when needed for any student experiencing academic or personal problems.

Pre-Health Advisors Program

Emory University School of Medicine maintains a strong working relationship with pre-health advisors at numerous colleges and universities throughout the country who disseminate information about Emory University School of Medicine and assist in attracting applicants.

For more information about multicultural programs and services at Emory School of Medicine, please contact:

Multicultural Medical Student Affairs
Office of Medical Education & Student Affairs

Emory University School of Medicine Building
100 Woodruff Circle, P375
Atlanta , GA 30322
(404) 727-0016

Student Organizations & Activism

Emory Medical Alliance (EMA) aims to influence a positive and inclusive culture of diversity at the School of Medicine through educational opportunities around LGBT health, service opportunities to support the local LGBT community, social activities to build an inclusive community, and mentorship opportunities with LGBT Emory physicians.  This year, EMA held an LGBT Week featuring lunchtime talks on LGBT health issues, service opportunities with the Atlanta Lost-n-Found center for homeless LGBT youth, and social events to foster community and inclusion at EUSOM.  EMA is further collaborating with SNMA to host a lunchtime talk regarding health disparities among the Black MSM patient population.

The Emory Chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) is committed to supporting current and future underrepresented minority medical students, addressing the needs of underserved communities, and increasing the number of clinically excellent, culturally competent and socially conscious physicians. Additionally, SNMA is dedicated both to ensuring that medical education and services are culturally sensitive to the needs of diverse populations and to increasing the number of African-American, Hispanic/Latino, and other students of color entering and completing medical school. The present goals are:

  • To serve as a credible and accurate source of information relevant to minority issues in the field of medical education
  • To encourage and foster the development of minority faculty in order to increase the presence of minority mentors and biomedical researchers in academic health centers
  • To evaluate and cultivate the necessary measures to eradicate practices in the field of health profession education that compromises the goal of providing quality education to minorities and women

 SNMA has addressed cultural competency and appreciation through coordinated educational lunchtime talks around issues of social consciousness and social determinants of health, mentorship dinners with faculty and residents from a wealth of specialties, organized outreach and recruitment programs including SNMA Revisited and the 1st Annual SNMA Tour Day, and promoted community and unity through an array of community service and social events. Our annual “Kwanzaa: A Celebration of Diversity " event recognizes and celebrates the active commitment to diversity within our community.

Building The Pipeline

The Emory Pipeline Collaborative (EPiC) is a new program, funded by the federal government to prepare high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds for entry into health professions. Combining existing Emory University programs (Pipeline, PREP, Summer Science Academy), the new EPiC program is a comprehensive three-year continuum of learning, mentoring, college preparation, and health profession exposure activities.  

Students are selected as EPiC Scholars during their 10th grade year and are matched with undergraduate mentors.  Led by graduate and professional students in medicine, public health, and health sciences, participants learn how to improve their health and well-being and are inspired to believe in their own intellectual strength and to aspire to college and a health profession.  Teachers in the program become leaders with a unique understanding of the socio-contextual determinants of health and education and become proficient in mentorship and scientific communication. 

With the lack of minority and low socio-economic applicants applying to health sciences degree programs, funding opportunities such as this one are vital to support our ongoing effort to address educational barriers and social support needs of high school students at a pivotal time in their lives.  Whether or not participants go to medical school or even to Emory, we believe this program will increase the number of minority students who attend and graduate from college and ultimately become outstanding, compassionate healthcare providers in our communities.

For more information about the EPiC program, please visit the website at:

Religious & Spiritual Life

All students are encouraged to nurture their religious and spiritual life, and several student groups gather regularly to foster these important identities.  The intersection of faith and healing is honored through the celebration of many faith traditions; and harmonious coexistence for all students, faculty, staff, and our patients is promoted by all groups.  Emory University’s Office of Spiritual and Religious Life represents various religious traditions and seeks to enrich and strengthen diversity through worship, service, education and the promotion of inter-religious engagement.

Financial Assistance

Recognizing that socio-economic factors affect diversity and often limit opportunities and decisions regarding medical school, Emory School of Medicine awards over $3 million dollars in need-based aid to medical students each year.  In order to support application from all qualified applicants, we are happy to waive our Supplemental Application fee for those in need.

From the Dean's Office

The development of a culture that fosters diversity and inclusion is a commitment to an ongoing journey.  We have devoted time and energy to training in recognizing unconscious bias at this year's leadership retreats for our department chairs, Emory Hospital leaders, and Grady service chiefs. We have begun to critically examine our recruitment and development processes.

To bring more voices to the table, the School of Medicine has launched a Diversity & Inclusion Committee made up of faculty, students, and staff who are committed to helping guide and lead such efforts. The committee will work in concert with the Emory University Advisory Committee on Community and Diversity to establish SOM diversity and community priorities, recommend goals and specific actions, and continuously assess the SOM's progress.

"This is an exciting time for Emory to approach diversity and inclusion from a holistic viewpoint, addressing what now exists and what we hope to achieve across the enterprise," says chair Dr. Sheryl Heron (emergency medicine), who is one of the editors of the recently published textbook Diversity and Inclusion in Quality Patient Care.  Our commitment to building a diverse community and inclusive culture is not only the right thing to do, it is a strategic imperative that will accelerate our efforts to foster the health and well-being of those we serve as well as enrich our Emory Medicine community.