Diversity, Equity & Inclusion


The Department of Surgery at Downstate Health Sciences University is committed to building a community that explicitly recognizes the value of human diversity.

We aim to constantly demonstrate our inherent, unwavering value of and respect for the rich spectrum of human differences in actual or perceived race, color, religion, creed, age, sex, national origin, alienage, citizenship status, culture, language, socioeconomic status, marital status, partnership status, familial status, caregiver status, parental status, domestic violence victim status, military status, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, gender non-conformance or transgender status, physical or mental disability or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or city law.

We believe that by creating a diverse, respectful, and inclusive training environment we can develop the best work place and the best trainees. In addition to the institutional work on inclusivity in recruitment and selection committees structure; development of policies and procedures to ensure our values of inclusivity and respect are known, followed, and upheld; promoting a welcoming climate of diversity and inclusion as represented in institutional cultural events and program social events; implementing educational programs that provide skills in cross-cultural communication and cultural sensitivity skills to enable effective communication and interaction with an increasingly global and multi-ethnic population; we are also looking at increasing mentoring and sponsorship activities between senior and junior faculty members, direct outreach to candidates from underrepresented groups, advertising faculty/staff vacancies more broadly.

The SUNY Downstate Office for Institutional Equity plays an essential role in the recruitment of underrepresented minorities in medicine on our campus. These efforts include pipeline programs, which target STEM exposure to students of historically underrepresented backgrounds, including BRIDGES to Medicine Program (BRIDGES); Summer Program in Translational Disparities and Community-Engaged Research (SPRINTER); Early Medical Education Program; Exploring Health Careers; and the H-PREP Daniel Hale Williams Society. In addition, our campus sponsors the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, whose mission is to engage with our community partners to advocate for health equity.

A focus of the SUNY Downstate research mission is to investigate and create solutions addressing health disparities. The Brooklyn Health Disparities Center is a collaboration with our academic center, community partners, and local policy officials to create evidence-based strategies to reduce health disparities in Brooklyn.

Our program reviews resident applications holistically, picture blind, to assure that implicit biases are minimized. We look especially for applicants who come from the immigrant communities we serve, regardless of where in the US they are educated. We participate in activities to recruit residents from our graduating class, including providing speakers to the Daniel Hale Williams Society. We provide mentorship to all residents, both formally and informally.

We are also encouraging residents to join the Association of Academic Black Surgeons. We have held at least annually a lecture dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments, contributions to the community in Central Brooklyn as well as maintaining the institutional memory of Samuel L Koontz, MD, a former chair of our department as well as a pioneer transplant surgeon.

We require both faculty and residents to participate in the AMA-GME Competency Education Program that includes mandatory completion of modules including cultural competency, managing unconscious bias, resident intimidation, working effectively within an inter professional team, and teamwork and communication.