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Department of Medicine shares diversity news for May and June 2022

About the Department of Medicine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council

The mission of the Department of Medicine’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is to be a resource and advocate for all issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion within the Department of Medicine.

The council strives to foster an organizational change that creates, promotes and nurtures the value of a multicultural environment and varied perspective to serve Penn State Health’s missions.

It also strives to build collaborations and bridges with communities in the region as the Penn State Health family expands in central Pennsylvania.

As part of that mission, the council has created a monthly newsletter. This is the Spring 2022 edition.

Council’s Corner

Welcome to the fourth edition of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Newsletter! In this issue, we will revisit some religious holidays that were celebrated in May and highlight upcoming cultural holidays and national observances on the calendar in June, including Juneteenth and Pride Month. We will also reveal the racist history or connotation behind the terms “spirit animal” and “grandfathered in,” and provide a preview of upcoming diversity-related events hosted by the College of Medicine and Penn State Health.

Thank you, as always, for your unwavering support of our mission. Please enjoy our fourth issue.

Department of Medicine Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council members:
Ayesha Ahmad, MD; Glenn Buchberger, MD; Alia Chisty, MD, MS; Nasr Ghahramani, MD, MS; Stephen Henderson, MD (Council Chair); Fahad Khalid, MD; Karen Krok, MD; and Ify Ndukwu, MD, MBA

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Ongoing Initiatives

Diversity Grand Rounds Expand answer

Our Diversity Grand Rounds series began in September 2020 with a roundtable discussion celebrating Women in Medicine. Other presentations and panels focused on the experiences of Hispanics/Latinx in Medicine as well as medical conditions and health disparities in the Black community.

Our most recent Diversity Grand Rounds took place on March 1, 2022. Drs. JJ Nunez, Alia Chisty and Dwight Davis led an extremely informative and impactful presentation on “Addressing Structural Racism in Academic Medicine” that is available to watch on Mediasite at this link.  Special thanks to all of our Diversity Grand Rounds speakers!

We also encourage everyone to revisit our previous Diversity Grand Rounds recordings on Mediasite. Presentations available include:

The Division of Hospital Medicine also sponsored Grand Rounds on June 22, 2021, featuring a presentation from Dr. Henry Ng with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, who discussed “COVID-19 and the LGBTQ+ Community: Promoting Health and Health Equity.” Click here to rewatch this session.

See previous Medicine Grand Rounds presentations on Mediasite
(Penn State Health ePass login required)

Community Engagement and Outreach Expand answer

Stay tuned for details about upcoming health fairs and free community clinics!

Event of the Month

Inclusion Academy – Providing Culturally Responsive Care to Muslim Patients

12 to 1 p.m. May 26

Inclusion Academy is an educational program organized by Penn State Health’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that focuses on providing cultural knowledge and an understanding of various diverse/marginalized communities and addresses components of diversity often found in workplaces and communities.

The sessions are offered throughout the year and are separated into categories that benefit various audiences and are designed to foster cultural excellence in all facets of our organization.

This webinar will provide participants with tools and resources to be able to provide culturally responsive health care to Muslim patients and establish a caring and trusting patient-provider relationship.

The session will be held via Zoom. Webinar links will be provided upon registration.

See details and register here

Cultural Corner: Recent Holidays, Observances and Celebrations

April to May: Ramadan Expand answer

From the beginning of April through the beginning of May, Muslims across the world observed Ramadan, a holy month of fasting, prayer, reflection and community. Please see the following reflection on Ramadan that was written by Dr. Ayesha Ahmad to learn more about this important religious observation:

Many Muslim households across the USA rose at predawn for prayers and an early breakfast to mark the first fast of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar. Because the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, this month (and the 2 major Muslim holidays) traverse all seasons over the years. Ramadan begins at the sighting of the new crescent and ends at the waning crescent.

Fasting exists in every major religion and in Islam the practice extends to an entire month.

Fasting is the 4th pillar of Islam. The Quran, the holy scripture of Muslims, began to be revealed in this month.

O ye who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous

The prescribed fasting is for a fixed number of days, but whoso among you is sick or is on a journey shall fast the same number of other days; and for those who are able to fast only with great difficulty is an expiation — the feeding of a poor man. And whoso performs a good work with willing obedience, it is better for him. And fasting is good for you, if you only knew.

The Quran Chapter 2 verse 184-185

Observant Muslims across the world fast from sunrise to sunset. They abstain not only from food and drink but also marital intimacy, smoking and all vices including quarrelling and vain pursuits. It is a spiritual bootcamp to practice physical, dietary and spiritual discipline. Many Muslims devote extra time to worship, the 5 daily prayers, reading the Quran and charity of time, treasure and talent while continuing school or professional activities. Consumption of routine entertainment and social media generally diminish as does sleep. Breaking the fast at sunset is a family event and many households make special treats that are as culturally heterogenous as American Muslims. Muslims make extra effort for communal worship service on Friday afternoons. Weekend evenings are at the local mosque for evening meals and prayers. Children and adults with health issues and pregnant/lactating women are exempt as are travelers.

The rigorous month is hard on the body but softens the soul and nurtures the connection with our creator. It recalibrates our focus and revives our enthusiasm to rights of God and His creation. Reduced meals and consumption for millions across USA and billions across the world also has a positive impact on the environment.

This year, Ramadan also intersected with Passover and Easter, reminding us about our common and beloved patriarch Abraham and his legacy. These holidays have also come after 2 years of the pandemic where communities and congregations were able to mingle after a long absence.

First week of May: Eid al-Fitr Expand answer

The Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, began during the first week of May in parts of the world where sightings of the new moon were made.

Click here to peruse images of Muslims around the world observing Eid al-Fitr and Ramadan.

June: Pride Month Expand answer

Pride Month commemorates the ongoing pursuit of equal justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community and celebrates the accomplishments of LGBTQ individuals.

The event that catalyzed the gay rights movement occurred June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, when police raided the establishment (a popular gathering place for the LGBTQ community). They arrested employees and patrons of the bar while pedestrians watched. Riots ensued in response, lasting about five days. At the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations in Philadelphia, gay rights activists proposed the idea of a march in response to the Stonewall events. The march occurred on June 28, 1970, the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots, to celebrate “gay pride.”

The pride march in New York inspired others to occur across the country in solidarity. Thereafter, gay pride celebrations expanded globally. Here in the U.S., LGBTQ Pride is a monthlong celebration, with marches occurring throughout the month of June.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

June 19: Juneteenth Expand answer

Juneteenth, an annual holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, has been celebrated by African-Americans since the late 1800s. But in recent years, and particularly following nationwide protests over police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other Black Americans, there is a renewed interest in the day that celebrates freedom.

The celebration continues to resonate in new ways, given the sweeping changes and widespread protests across the U.S. over the last year and following a guilty verdict in the killing of Mr. Floyd.

Source: The New York Times

Personal Reflection, Narratives, Short Stories and Poetry

This newsletter welcomes creative writing submissions from physicians, faculty, staff and students! Send ideas and completed works to Jessica Bogard at

Other Diversity Initiatives and Projects

You’re invited: Help identify ways to enhance diversity at College of Medicine Expand answer

Dr. Inginia Genao, vice dean of equity, inclusion and belonging, invites College of Medicine faculty, staff and students to discuss successes and opportunities for improvement related to diversity at one of the following sessions:

  • “Learning, Listening and Identifying Opportunities for Diversity, Equity and Belonging”
  • Wednesday, May 25, 10 a.m.
  • Thursday, May 26, noon
  • Zoom

Genao joined the College of Medicine in April and is excited to begin building her team and moving forward with the following initiatives:

  • Minimizing bias in admissions, employment and promotion
  • Eradicating racism within operations
  • Expanding pathway programs and scholarship opportunities
  • Promoting curriculum development that advances critical thinking about cultural diversity and justice
  • Promoting diversity in research participation
  • Implementing accommodations for individuals with disabilities
  • Providing policy guidance
Inclusion Week set for June 13-17 Expand answer

Penn State Health’s Inclusion Week is an opportunity for employees to expand their awareness of other cultures through virtual programs showcasing diversity as a component of health care and healing. These events support Penn State Health’s inclusive approach to caring for our increasingly diverse patient population.

Embedded within Inclusion Week this year is Penn State Health’s Day of Understanding on Tuesday, June 14. This day is part of a national initiative to engage in candid conversations to inspire change. The week will end with a celebration of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

Click here for a full schedule of Inclusion Week events.

Expand cultural competency with free training in LGBTQ patient-centered care Expand answer

Learn more about how to provide patient-centered care for LGBTQ patients through free online training offered by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. Sixty different interactive e-learning and webinar options are available, ranging from the basics of LGBTQ patient-centered care to more specialized topics for clinicians.

Visit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation website for training options.

Read the full article for important registration instructions.

Participating in one or more trainings supports Penn State Health’s organizational goal to educate employees on caring for patients with diverse backgrounds. Additionally, your participation helps Hershey Medical Center and St. Joseph Medical Center achieve leader status in the Human Rights Foundation’s LGBTQ Healthcare Equality Index.

Contact Hector Ortiz at for more information.

Penn State student-developed app aims to redefine Black motherhood Expand answer

Blending interdisciplinary expertise from across the University, a group of Penn State students are building a mobile health application designed to support the mental and physical health of Black moms.

Read more about this important initiative here.

Words Matter Expand answer

What we say can have a negative and harmful impact, even if we don’t intend to send the wrong message or don’t even realize that we’re speaking insensitively. In this section, we’ll highlight two words that should be avoided, if possible, due to troubling histories or origins.

Spirit animal

Using “spirit animal” to refer to something you love or identify with is a form of cultural appropriation that cheapens its true meaning. Some Native American tribes believe in “spirit animals” or “totems,” which are spirits that guide and protect them on a journey or in their life in general. Now, many people who are not Native American and usually know nothing about this spiritual tradition call various people, animals and objects their “spirit animals,” often as determined by an online quiz or a general interest.

Grandfathered in

Even after the 15th Amendment was passed in 1870, giving Black American men the right to vote, a number of states instituted poll taxes and literacy tests to make voting more difficult for Black people. This was a way around an outright ban on Black voting, which had become illegal. But several states passed a law, known as “the grandfather clause,” saying that if you could vote before the 15th Amendment was passed or were the lineal descendant of a voter, you didn’t have to take the tests or pay the poll tax. In other words, if you were white, you were “grandfathered in” to being allowed to vote.

Source: Babbel Magazine

Upcoming Events Expand answer

We will highlight Department of Medicine-specific events in the future.

Inclusion Academy Events

The Inclusion Academy is an educational program organized by Penn State Health’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion that focuses on providing cultural knowledge and an understanding with the goal of providing culturally responsive patient care to diverse and marginalized communities. The sessions are offered throughout the year and are separated into categories that benefit various audiences and are designed to foster cultural excellence in all facets of our organization.

Inclusion Academy Culturally Responsive Care Series: Best Practices in Offering Medical Care for Ukrainians

12 to 1 p.m. June 9

This session will address the impact of trauma in serving Ukrainian refugees. We will have an overview of the Ukrainian healthcare system, a synopsis of the trauma and basic medical needs, as well as the psychological and physiological responses to pain, injury, serious illness, medical procedures, and potential treatment experiences. CME credits will be offered for this session.

See details and register here

An Introduction to Trauma-Informed Care

4 to 5 p.m. June 15

See details and register here

Additional diversity-related events and webinars

Upstander Café

12 to 1 p.m. June 3

Penn State Health’s Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is hosting monthly one-hour Upstander Cafés to increase education on creating a respectful environment by providing an opportunity for employees to discuss scenarios of microaggressions and bias with the goal of practicing their Upstander skills.

This session will be held both in-person and virtually and registration is required for both formats.

See details and register here (virtual session)

See details and register here (in-person session)

If you have any questions or require accommodation of a disability to participate, please email the Diversity Office at

Insight into our Identities: LGBTQIA+ Communities and Inclusivity

12 to 1 p.m. June 10

Penn State Health is committed to developing a welcoming and inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ employees and community members. The Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion invites to you to participate in a town hall discussion to learn more about our resources and efforts in promoting equity for sexual and gender minorities. The session concludes with an open dialogue to discover what we as an organization are doing well for this employee and patient population and where we can work to improve our culture, communications and safety.

If you have any questions or require accommodation of a disability to participate, please contact us at:

See details and register here

Global Diversity Awareness – Juneteenth and Black/African American Music Appreciation Celebration

June 17

Join the Penn State Health Office for Diversity Equity and Inclusion in a Juneteenth and Black/African American Music Appreciation Celebration!

On June 19, 1866, formerly enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, celebrated a year of emancipation, or freedom, with the “Juneteenth” holiday. Juneteenth celebrations quickly spread to the rest of the country, and the date continues to be the oldest known tradition honoring the end of slavery in the United States.

Today, Juneteenth celebrations include picnics, rodeos, barbeques, parades and readings of the Emancipation Proclamation and the work of African American authors, such as Ralph Ellison, whose posthumously published second novel is titled Juneteenth. (National Geographic).

This event is an opportunity to raise awareness about Black and African American culture, as well as build an inclusive environment for our Black and African American patients and employees.

How to Participate:

Stop by the cafeterias of your community hospital, or the common areas of your practice site, between Noon and 1:30 p.m. and between 5 and 6:30 p.m. (or while supplies last) to pick up treats and coloring pages and learn more about this celebration. Supplies are limited, so please be sure to stop down early. Remember to check in by scanning the QR code on the table.

Webinar: Pride Month Celebration

12 to 1:30 p.m. June 28

Join the Penn State Health Office for Diversity Equity and Inclusion in a Pride Month Celebration!

Together, we will go on a journey of understanding the history of LGBTQIA+ people in Pennsylvania and building awareness and inclusivity to advance an environment in which LGBTQIA+ employees and patients can show up as their full selves, out and proud!

See details and register here

Previous Issues

You can read through previous issues of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Newsletter below:

Contact the Newsletter Team

Lead editor: Jessica Bogard (

Co-editors: Dr. Karen Krok ( and Dr. Nasr Ghahramani (

A head-and-shoulders professional photo of Dr. Karen Krok next to one of Dr. Nasr Ghahramani

Dr. Karen Krok and Dr. Nasr Ghahramani

With questions or suggestions for this newsletter, email Jessica Bogard at

If you're having trouble accessing this content, or would like it in another format, please email the Penn State College of Medicine web department.