Johns Hopkins cardiologist and physician in chief
Myron "Mike" Weisfeldt is the recipient of
the 2008 Diversity Award from the Association of Professors
of Medicine, an organization whose
members come from across the United States and Canada.
Presented Thursday during the
association's annual meeting in Miami, the award recognizes
efforts that Weisfeldt has made a
hallmark of his tenure since he took over as director of
Department of Medicine six years ago and
began to implement a formal program to increase diversity
among residents, fellows and the
Weisfeldt is the second recipient of the award,
created last year to recognize outstanding
achievements in improving diversity in academic medical
"Practicing good medicine goes hand in hand with
diversity and multiculturism," said Weisfeldt,
who is also the William Osler Professor of Medicine. "I
feel very privileged to receive this award
because it acknowledges that physicians need to reflect the
population they serve."
Since the program's inception, the number of
underrepresented minority medical residents and
fellows in the Department of Medicine has nearly tripled,
from 8 percent in 2001 to 23 percent in
2006 (out of slightly more than 100 medical house staff).
Strong gains also have been made among his faculty in
the department, he said, with a near
doubling in the numbers of assistant professors of medicine
who are underrepresented minorities.
In 2005, Hispanic Business magazine ranked The Johns
Hopkins University as second only to
Stanford University as the best place for Hispanics to
"Our high standards have been and remain very high.
Our goal was to simply expand the group of
qualified applicants among women and underrepresented
minorities. They are there, and we were
determined to find them," Weisfeldt said.
Edward D. Miller, dean of the medical faculty and CEO
of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said,
"Through sound leadership and guidance, Mike Weisfeldt has
made tremendous strides in how
physicians practice medicine — from leading efforts
to make more widely available automated external
cardiac defibrillators, to discoveries that have been
incorporated to guidelines for CPR and advanced
cardiac life support — and now, as demonstrated by
this award, he has also helped transform the
culture of medicine, positioning Hopkins to be more
globally aware, multicultural in both our outlook
and makeup, and much better prepared to act as a world
leader in medicine."
Weisfeldt points out that in 2000 just one medical
resident in more than 100 at Johns Hopkins
was African-American, "unfortunately, a common situation,"
he said, among academic medical centers
historically located in urban centers with majority black
Recent statistics from the Association of American
Medical Colleges show that 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. Only 6
percent of practicing physicians belong to these
"Diversity has new meaning at teaching hospitals
across the United States, including at Hopkins,
whose global mandates now attract patients not only from
our immediate community but also from
virtually every part of the world," said Weisfeldt, who has
trained and mentored future physician-
scientists for more than two decades, earlier at Columbia
University and now at Johns Hopkins. It was
at Columbia in the late 1990s that Weisfeldt was introduced
to a diversity program and saw its impact
"Having a formal diversity program is essential to
boosting the numbers of minorities and women
at all levels of medicine," he said. "We still have a long
way to go, but in 10 to 12 years' time, I am
confident that there will be a globally diverse group of
medical faculty at Hopkins."
Among the keystones of his program at Johns Hopkins,
Weisfeldt established a diversity
council that implemented a host of changes that, he said,
"encompassed the entire medical pipeline,"
from students to residents and fellows, to faculty and
potential physician leaders.
With a modest startup budget from the School of
Medicine and a grant from Pfizer,
Weisfeldt's team took deliberate steps to increase the
volume of student applicants from minority
groups and women, and to encourage those who came or were
already here to grow their careers in-
Ads were placed in journals and on Web sites that
serve minority medical school students,
encouraging applications for residencies and
The diversity team assigned to each applicant a member
of the Johns Hopkins house staff to
act as an advocate and guide the candidate through. Travel
expenses were reimbursed for students
called back for second interviews.
A regular survey was introduced to assess attitudes
among current and former minorities on
staff, and to see what improvements could be made to career
development efforts, including peer
counseling from minorities and women already at Johns
Other key elements in the department's program
included the tracking and feedback of
progress to division directors; championing cultural
competency training, now a permanent feature of
medical training at Johns Hopkins; exit interviews to learn
more about the role of an "inclusive"
environment on retention of minority faculty; and support
for the creation of senior posts to oversee
diversity programs across the medical campus.
Roy Ziegelstein is now responsible for the
department's day-to-day diversity activities at the
East Baltimore campus and Bayview Medical Center.
Ziegelstein, executive vice chairman of Bayview's
Department of Medicine and associate program director of
its residency program in internal medicine,
recently took over these responsibilities from Lisa Cooper,
professor of medicine, epidemiology and
health policy and recipient of a MacArthur "genius" award
An institutional survey showed that mentoring and
networking opportunities for minorities were
valued, and the Department of Medicine began a guest
lecture series, a senior-year clerkship for a
minority medical student and joint programs with local high
schools, encouraging teenagers to pursue
careers in medicine.