College of Medicine names new assistant dean for DEI
Dr. Bi Awosika has served as a mentor, advisor and advocate for medical students and residents
Bi Awosika, MD, has been named assistant dean of diversity equity and inclusion at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine with a focus on medical education. She begins her new responsibilities March 18.
“I am completely humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to serve in this capacity. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the College of Medicine has and continues to serve as an integral resource for not only the medical school community but also for the institution at large,” Awosika says. “Given its foundational roots and growth, the significant task to continue its legacy is one that will be held in the highest light, and I look forward to being a part of college leadership to fulfill the mission in this role.“
Awosika currently is an associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine. She serves as a hospitalist at UC Medical Center and is associate program director for the Internal Medicine Residency Program. She will continue in both roles while taking on her new responsibility with the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).
“Since joining the College of Medicine faculty in 2016, Dr. Awosika has consistently engaged students, residents and faculty on important DEI issues working to eliminate implicit bias, promoting inclusivity and making working and learning environments more diverse and equitable. She also has been a trusted mentor, advisor and advocate for students and residents, especially those who identify as being from under-represented populations,” says Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean of the College of Medicine.
Awosika has been involved in numerous departmental DEI task forces and helped form the Implicit Bias Improvement Group in 2019, which has since transformed into the Medical Community Advocates for Representation, Equity and Social Justice (MedCARES). Awosika is the faculty champion of MedCARES, which serves to reduce implicit bias in the Internal Medicine Residency Program and promote diversity and inclusion. She also previously has served as the faculty advisor for the Minority Housestaff Association, which helps create opportunities for advancement of under-represented residents and fellows through mentorship, networking and professional development. She also is chair of the Resident Clinical Competency Committee and serves as an advisor to the Resident Diversity Leadership Program. Recently, Awosika has become an advisor to under-represented minority third- and fourth-year medical students.
These efforts have helped bring national recognition to Awosika. In 2021, she was selected as one of the National Minority Quality Forum Forty Under 40 Leaders in Minority Health to represent the next generation of thought leaders in reducing health disparities and serve as role models. At the College of Medicine, she has received the Richard Vilter Award in the Department of Internal Medicine and was a 2021 recipient of the college’s Excellence in Mentoring Award.
“It has been a privilege to know and truly reaffirm the inspiring backgrounds, journey and talent that are found within our medical student body,” Awosika says. “The journey from entering medical school to its completion may be one filled with relative ease for some, but for others, there is also the recognition of elements of adversity and hardship. The concept of the ‘distance traveled’ looks different for each learner and it is our responsibility as medical educators to acknowledge those differences.”
Awosika will work closely with Steven Kniffley Jr., PsyD, after he begins May 8 as senior associate dean for DEI and also will collaborate with Philip Diller, MD, PhD, senior associate dean of educational affairs.
Awosika says she is optimistic in the direction the college has taken and its growth in the area of DEI, but knows that additional work is needed. She points to mitigating bias while promoting competency-based medical education, supporting pipeline initiatives and reducing bias in assessment as among her goals. She also wants to explore ways to optimize the clinical experiences for students in the various clinical site environments so learning is equitable. She hopes her work will “help to elevate the pursuit of cultural humility in our various spaces that would provide a ripple effect when we interact with the surrounding communities.”
“There is undeniable richness to the power of DEI, from building our teams and nurturing our clinical and research environments, empowering and educating stakeholders, to providing optimal care to the same diverse patient populations we have the privilege of serving,” Awosika says. “More specifically, the devotion to DEI efforts and the work that remains in supporting our learners is work that will allow us to celebrate the successes while also exploring how to come back to the table to overcome the challenges. It is a feat that patience, forward thinking and collaboration will help in sustaining us as leaders in continuing to promote the progress and advancements that are necessary.”
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