Increasing Diversity in the North Central Section: A Grass Roots Effort

By: Elizabeth B. Takacs, MD, FPMRS; Larissa Bresler, MD, DABMA | Posted on: 01 Apr 2022

I would like to thank Dr. Denstedt and Dr. Downs for inviting the North Central Section (NCS) to report on its diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. The section has been striving to increase diversity and inclusion for several years. In 2017 the NCS Board of Directors approved the creation of a Women in Urology (WIU) Committee, with the first chair attending the interim meeting in 2018 and bylaws being approved and updated at the annual meeting in the fall of 2018. The committee chairperson is a member of the NCS Board of Directors. The NCS Board recognizes that there continues to be a lack of diversity in the section leadership and is determined to rectify this.

Regardless of the committee’s official name, under the direction of Dr. Larissa Bresler the committee has expanded its role beyond women in urology to champion diversity and inclusivity as well. The committee has developed a Support On the Spot (SOS) program geared to women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) to have the ability to reach out for rapid advice in navigating complex work situations, and provide a sponsor to expand URM and WIU opportunities for involvement in professional societies, meetings and leadership prospects. In addition, the committee brought forth the recommendation of an award to recognize women and URMs in the section for their contribution. The Board unanimously agreed to approve such an award, and further details will be discussed with plans for the first recipient in 2023. The WIU Committee chair will serve on the long-range planning committee and participate in selection of NCS nominees for the AUA awards. A second recommendation from the WIU Committee was identification of women and URMs on the section speakers list. As a result, the section administration and secretary are working toward updating the list and will allow volunteers to indicate if they would like indication of being female or a URM.

“The NCS Board recognizes that there continues to be a lack of diversity in the section leadership and is determined to rectify this.”

The program committee worked hard to increase diversity of presenters at the annual meeting in 2021. During this meeting, 32% of the speakers, panelists or moderators were female. We will continue to work toward diversification of all speakers, panelists and moderators in the coming years. The program in 2021 featured a variety of opportunities to learn about implicit bias, health care disparities and diversity in the workforce (see table).

Table. NCS Annual Meeting 2021 lectures addressing diversity and inclusion

Type of Session Title Speaker
General Session: Invited Speaker Microaggressions Dr. Olufenwa Milhouse, MD, FPMRS
Breakout Session Stop! Did I Listen? Don’t Let Implicit Bias Interfere with Great Care
Health Care Disparities in Urology: Where We Are and What We Can Achieve
Dr. Jannah Thompson, MD, FPMRS
Dr. Tope Rude, MD
Panel: State of Urology Diversity in Urology: Where We Are Now and Where We Are Going
The Urology Workforce Shortage: Preparing for the Future
Dr. Hadley Wood, MD
Dr. Kate Kraft, MD, FAAP, FACS

Increasing diversity in urology must also occur at a grassroots level. The NCS Board of Directors is composed of state representatives, which are selected by the state societies, board officers and committee chairpersons. The NCS Board believes that adopting the aforementioned initiatives will encourage URMs and WIU to become involved in their state societies and NCS committees. The NCS is also developing research awards for medical students interested in urology, and discussion will include a designated award for students of URMs.

The NCS is committed to diversification and inclusion of participants at all levels within the section. Beyond those mentioned above, there are a number of other initiatives that have been implemented to increase participation in the organization and in development.