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U-M School of Nursing creates Office of Health Equity and Inclusion

The University of Michigan School of Nursing has announced the creation of a new Office of Health Equity and Inclusion, which will be led by the school’s Chief Health and Academic Equity Officer, Rushika Patel, Ph.D.

The new office will continue to advance academic diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) while serving as a platform for organized activities to address health disparities across populations. It will provide resources, support and growth opportunities for students, faculty and staff and be home to the school’s student resolutions officers and undergraduate DEI faculty consultants. The office will also support several DEI and health equity organizations for students, faculty and staff.

“The forces impacting equity in health and nursing education are dynamic, complex and deeply interrelated,” said U-M School of Nursing Dean Patricia D. Hurn, Ph.D., RN, FAAN. “The last year and a half’s pandemic has emphasized that we must dare to challenge and change the consistent health disparities in our state, country and globally. This office will highlight the work of those making significant contributions to equity in the School of Nursing, U.S. and broader global community while working to constantly strengthen our individual and collective impact in these critical areas.”

The office will examine curriculum, teaching and research to build a more diverse pipeline of nursing professionals and perspectives while also exploring the School of Nursing’s potential to facilitate health equity in larger contexts beyond the U-M community. The new office will also enhance the school’s efforts to build partnerships and programs with a specific focus on health equity.

As the leader of Office of Health Equity and Inclusion, Patel sees herself as a facilitator, focused on developing collaborative opportunities for students, faculty and staff with interest and expertise in health equity.

“We're not taking a siloed approach to this work — it extends across the school,” Patel said. “I think the most important thing the office can do is just provide opportunities and structures for collaboration around health equity. My job is about getting people together to make sure we’re doing all we can to increase our impact in this area.”