Reflect. Inspire. Strengthen. Empower. RISE cofounders Dr. Anjali Bhagra and Barbara Jordan share how these four simple words can evolve equity and inclusion in every industry, starting with healthcare. “My constant challenge to myself,” said Bhagra, “was that I did not want to develop a program that was more like a checkbox of complete this training and complete that training.” Rather than creating seminars, she crafted a concept that stresses human development and could be scaled for long-term, wide-reaching results.
“What excites me is the energy that we’re going to rally, the enthusiasm that we are going to build, and a whole very momentous activation that we’re going to build with RISE.” – Anjali Bhagra, M.D.
“It’s our mission to provide the best patient care to every patient, not just white patients, not just men, not just folks from Minnesota, but every patient every day.” – Barbara Jordan, M.S.
Read the transcript:
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: I’m Dr. Anjali Bhagra, medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
Barbara Jordan: And I’m Barbara Jordan, administrator of Mayo Clinic’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity. And we are…
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: Proud to present the Rise for Equity podcast.
Lee Hawkins: Welcome to Mayo Clinic’s Rise for Equity Podcast. I’m your host, Lee Hawkins. And today we’re here with Dr. Anjali Bhagra, a professor of medicine and medical director of the Office for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity for Mayo Clinic. Also joining us is Barbara Jordan, administrator of the Office for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity for Mayo Clinic. Welcome to you both.
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: Thank you.
Barbara Jordan: Thank you.
Lee Hawkins: I want to just start out by saying it’s fitting that this podcast would feature you (Dr. Bhagra) because you were the person that came up with the RISE concept. Can you tell us what that means to you and why it was so fitting to have a podcast and a conference named in honor of that concept?
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: Yeah. First of all, thank you for hosting the podcast, Lee. We really appreciate it. And thanks for asking the question because I love sharing the story of RISE. So RISE came by as part of a leadership development program where I participated. I was nominated by my division chair as a leader within the division to come up with a program to develop humans, to develop faculty, to develop my colleagues within the division.
And as I went through the program, my constant challenge to myself was that I did not want to develop a program that was more like a checkbox of complete this training and complete that training. You know, human development can be a very daunting process. I’m also a mother to two fabulous kids. I want to say I play some role in their development.
I’m also a resilience researcher, and through what I’ve learned in my role as a mom and a resilience researcher, I realized that first human development is a continuous process. And adults and children learn differently. So the RISE framework really came by as an amalgamation of my awareness in many different roles of being a lifelong learner, reflecting really on how I like to learn.
So that’s the first component of RISE, the R, which is reflection and really building on that awareness that comes from reflection. The next step to me – the I – became inspiration because before I’d do anything in life, I like to think about things as a future back approach. Like, where do I want to go? How do I want to get there? What’s inspiring me?
So inspiration came as a natural next activation framework for this process of developing faculty or colleagues within my division. The next two are the S and the E, which is strengthen and empower. And I feel as a physician, as a scientist, I’ve found myself dug in data in a mode of analysis paralysis, because there’s so much information and there’s so much that we need to do and first we get inspired and then somewhere we get stuck or frozen because we don’t know what to do with that inspiration.
So to me, that strengthening myself and empowerment through community and team came as next steps. So R-I-S-E, which automatically became RISE, was just a very fitting in my mind framework for developing individuals. However, fast forward a few months as I got appointed to this role of the medical director of Mayo Clinic’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
You know, I was thinking a lot about systems and how do we develop and build systems. Is that really different than individuals? Because at the end of the day, it’s a collection of individuals that form a system. Any system. I feel like when you have a team and partners where you can dream and they make it all happen for you, I think that really gave me the confidence to what I felt was going to be a stress test of: can we use this as an activation framework for a larger community, for an entire system across industry? Can we use these very tangible skills?
So that’s how right the Rise for Equity Conference was born and I have to really thank my very, very strong team at Mayo Clinic. Colleagues, such as Ms. Barbara Jordan, who just kept giving me the inspiration to dream and they made it a reality.
Lee Hawkins: Yes. And Barbara, you’ve been in this for three decades, right?
Barbara Jordan: I have.
Lee Hawkins: Tell me about that journey and how, you know, the progress that you’ve seen, the challenges that you’ve seen, and what it means to do this event in this podcast.
Barbara Jordan: Thank you, Lee, and thank you for having us. You know, yesterday I celebrated thirty years at Mayo Clinic. I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on that 30-year journey at Mayo Clinic, and I have been very fortunate, I would say blessed to be a part of an organization who has really transitioned from a somewhat conservative approach to what at the early days we called multicultural affairs, to really putting in resources, putting vocal and visible support behind advancing equity.
The inclusion and diversity piece – the action is inclusion, but the equity piece is where we’re seeking today to really make it embedded across everything. Twenty, thirty years ago, it was an afterthought, something we did on the side to think about. We didn’t even call it equity. We just, you know, called it cultural competence and multicultural affairs.
Today, it is a priority. It is resourced from our CEOs to our C-suite, our directors, all of us, and leadership. It is something we will talk about, whether we’re in I.T., public affairs, education, on our platforms, our our data. Everybody knows that it has to be a part of every aspect of our organization for us to remain as a world leader in equity, inclusion and diversity as well as clinical care.
So that’s the transformation that I have seen over thirty years. And I’m very proud of the organization. And one of the reasons I stay is because it has become such an important part of the work we do. We believe that to provide the best care to every patient, every day, which is our mission, we have to have EID embedded across everything we do.
Lee Hawkins: And you’ve made a big investment. Now, that’s something that you don’t see at a lot of organizations. Tell me about that.
Barbara Jordan: So when George Floyd was murdered, organizations across the globe started making statements and some put tangible efforts behind that. But our organization did not take long to say, in addition to coming out in support of social justice, we are going to focus on the things that are important to our mission and recognizing that elimination of racism has a downstream effect to health care, including the eradication of health disparity.
So the $100 million commitment is real. And part of that reality you saw as you had a chance to visit with our Rise for Youth students. That program is sponsored and funded by resources from the initiative. And there are there are a plethora of different things, both small and large, that in time we know will have an impact on eliminating racism and eradicating health disparities.
So we can’t say enough about that effort and the support from the highest levels of our organization to see that that has become reality.
Lee Hawkins: Barbara, you mentioned that at one point across sectors, diversity inclusion and equity was considered an afterthought in some cases. When did it start to become something that you saw as: Wow, people are really starting to understand the importance of this. And what did that mean to you?
Barbara Jordan: Yeah, you know, I have spent twenty years at Mayo in education, and I believe that education has been at the forefront of the movement. So I’ll take myself out of education and just think more broadly across all the sectors of society. And I would say that past decade, I’ve really seen resources, intentionality, and accountability really take front and center for EID.
Whereas in the past, in our teachings of medical students, we did talk about cultural competency and we did have diversity day. Today we have a curriculum that inclusion, diversity, anti-racism and equity is woven throughout and integrated throughout our entire medical school curriculum. So whereas it might have been a four hour teaching in the past, today it’s hours of curriculum that look at every aspect of health care that’s taught in a medical school environment through a DEI lens, to ensure that the physicians of the future who are medical students today are able to care for every patient every day with the same level of quality and everybody gets that same level of quality. In the past, they did not feel – we have data to support this – they didn’t feel comfortable caring for a diverse patient environment. Today, they understand the lived experiences of those patients who might show up at their door and be from a different background than themselves. Today, they understand the challenges of access.
They understand health disparities. So training the physicians of the future, that’s our commitment at Mayo today. And part of that work, again, is funded through the initiative so that we can ensure that again, I say it over and over, but it’s the goal: it’s our mission to provide the best patient care to every patient, not just white patients, not just men, not just folks from Minnesota, but every patient every day.
Lee Hawkins: All right, Dr. Bhagra, what’s next?
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: Well, I’m extremely excited about what’s now. I think right now I’m just going to build on what Barbara said. The conference, as you know, was titled The Art the Science and Transformation of EID. And right now, what excites me is this revitalized community that we have. Yes, we have commitment, but we also have these very exciting opportunities.
Like we kicked off the conference with a message from Dr. Gianrico Farrugia, our CEO and president at Mayo Clinic. And, you know, we have this fundamental approach of the needs of the patients come first, and we know the needs of our patients are changing. They are constantly evolving. So what’s really exciting is our new models for these cares, such as the platform model and RISE quite honestly, is a platform model.
So what excites me is the energy that we’re going to rally, the enthusiasm that we are going to build, and a whole very momentous activation that we’re going to build with RISE and other initiatives coming out of Mayo Clinic. I think this podcast is the now and the next, and I hope that we’ll come back with another series of this.
Lee Hawkins: All right. Great. Well, let’s focus on the now. And I’m so excited to share this podcast because wow, like I said when I said the nation’s best and brightest, I meant it. There are some – including the young people.
Barbara Jordan: Absolutely.
Lee Hawkins: It was just an invaluable opportunity for them to network and to see people who are in the positions that they aspire to be in. It’s just a golden opportunity.
Barbara Jordan: Thank you for taking time to visit with them. Oh, we’re so proud of them.
Lee Hawkins: I’ve learned so much in this, you know, especially when it comes to all of the data and the research and the area, the levels of EID and how you’ve made this native to everything that you do now, and how important and critical that is to addressing the things that we read about in newspapers that are concerning. When we get the data about racial disparities and things like that.
So it’s really been powerful. And like I said, we’ve had some hard conversations, but it’s important that Mayo is on the leading edge with that.
Dr. Anjali Bhagra: Well, thank you, Lee. We really appreciate you helping us disseminate this message far and wide.
Lee Hawkins: Thank you. And with that, we will bring you Mayo Clinic’s Rise for Equity podcast. I’m Lee Hawkins. Check it out.