Working with residents at the OSU Medical Center for nearly 40 years has given Brenda Davidson an insight into what medical students and recent graduates want and need from their university.
That insight, along with her appetite for learning, is what Davidson will use to find success in her new role as OSU Center for Health Sciences first Assistant Dean of Diversity for the newly established Office of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.
“My passion is to learn something new every single day. And in that learning, I want to be able to understand the differences of individuals— their backgrounds, their experiences. Education is a passion for me because growing up as a child I always wanted to do great things in a great place. That’s why I’m at OSU, a great place,” Davidson said. “I care about the students, the residents, the faculty and I care about the staff who are all part of this OSU family.”
Dr. Kayse Shrum, D.O., president of OSU-CHS and dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine, said the new office will serve students and residents alongside the Human Resources team, who will continue to support faculty and staff on diversity and inclusion endeavors.
“Brenda will lead and guide the development of student- and resident-focused programs and initiatives that strengthen our appreciation that diversity, equity and inclusion are essential to our mission and continued excellence,” Shrum said. “We believe a more diverse, open and inclusive environment creates a richer experience for our entire campus.”
The pillars of diversity, equity and inclusion are essential, and they enrich student experiences in many ways, Davidson said.
“Many students become more social and more comfortable and they feel included when those pillars are prioritized. It also allows students to exchange their individual ideas, their individual beliefs and their lifestyles,” she said. “One thing I’ve learned is that diversity intensifies self-awareness. Diversity continues to expand the students’ knowledge base and it promotes creative thinking. The world is very diverse, and a diverse campus encourages students to think about their careers based on a more global perspective.”
Those experiences of inclusion and embracing diversity in the academic setting also help educate students and residents while in school and as they enter the work force.
"You gain much more knowledge by being exposed to different experiences and perspectives. What I really enjoy about this new position is sharing that we’re not all the same. We can learn from each other’s backgrounds, cultures and beliefs. It also allows CHS to continue to enhance innovation and creation, as well as understand others’ perspectives and recognize everyone’s contribution to the institution."
For Davidson, the osteopathic philosophy of treating the person, not the disease, goes hand in hand with diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“To me, osteopathic means when you look at me, you treat all of me. You understand my feelings, you understand me as an individual, you understand me as a whole,” she said.
In addition to her new role, Davidson will also continue as Associate Designated Institutional Official in Graduate Medical Education. In that capacity she has worked with OSU’s residency programs to receive and maintain accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.
“It’s been a wonderful journey. Seeing the residents and fellows graduate is like seeing family members graduate because you become so connected and so involved not only in their professional lives, but you also hear about their personal lives and their families,” she said. “You’re working with the residents and the program directors as if they are your family.”
Davidson said she will use the skills and experience she’s gained in her nearly four decades working with residents and the resident programs in her new role in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
“OSU-CHS has given me the opportunity to lead, to guide, and to develop the student and resident programs and initiatives. It is our goal to strengthen the institution’s diversity, equity and inclusion programs. All of these are essential to OSU-CHS, its mission and its continued excellence,” she said.
And while OSU-CHS is doing well, Davidson said constant development and progress must continue in terms of diversity to ensure a safe and welcoming campus that promotes and respects human dignity regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, ability, gender, gender identity and age.
“The goals of this position are to create a more welcoming environment for students; create initiatives designed to improve student experiences here on campus; create a culture where everyone feels valued and believes the practices and outcomes here are indeed fair,” she said. “OSU-CHS strongly believes in creating a culture where every student and every resident feels empowered to reach their highest potential.”
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