Diversity, equity & inclusion
Creating a culture where you belong.
Geisinger is committed to cultivating a culture that fosters diversity and inclusion. We recognize that our team is our most valuable asset and seek to promote an environment that is welcoming of persons of all races, ethnicities, religious beliefs, genders and sexual orientations. At Geisinger, we celebrate life experiences, authentic personal differences, knowledge, innovation and talent. Within our Graduate Medical Education program, the director of diversity, equity and inclusion — along with our entire faculty — will apply inclusive principles in all settings to advance the institution's efforts to create a welcoming and safe environment for all residents and fellows.
In support of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has announced ACGME Equity Matters, a new initiative that introduces a framework for continuous learning and process improvement in the areas of DEI and anti-racism practices.
Geisinger incorporates DEI training for our learners and faculty, to implement and practice ACGME Equity Matters recommendations. We recruit a diverse group of learners and cultivate a culture of inclusivity for everyone.
GME at Geisinger supports and fosters affinity groups and supplies house staff with a platform to discuss matters related to diversity and inclusiveness in a psychologically safe environment. A House Staff Diversity and Inclusion Council, led by residents and fellows and mentored by the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Aliasgar Z. Chittalia, MD, MHA, ensures that our residents and fellows have a positive experience during their training.
A letter from the GME Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Why emphasize diversity, equity and inclusion? We do so to appreciate and value the core individuality of each human being. DEI seeks to highlight what’s unique in everyone and, in the process, enable everyone to attain their full potential.
To create workplaces where everyone can be who they are and feel encouraged to bring their best to work every day, we need to understand the attitudes and habits that get in our way and learn to recognize when to speak up or step in.
Diversity is the recognition, appreciation, respect and utilization of various attributes of every individual.
Diversity in the workplace should be about reflecting all the richness of humanity, different genders and races, abilities, aptitudes, disabilities and backgrounds. It needs to include different ages, ethnicities, and orientations. An often-mentioned paradigm that we should seek to eliminate through increased diversity is to rid our organization of affinity bias, which in simple terms is the tendency to favor someone we perceive to be like us.
Equity refers to fair and just practices and policies that ensure all campus community members can thrive.
Let’s understand an important distinction here; equity is not the same as equality. The underlying notion of equality is treating everyone on an even scale, assuming everyone has the same experiences. Equity is a step up on the pedestal, recognizing structural inequalities, both historic and contemporary, that predetermine success and failure. Equal treatment results in equity only if everyone starts with equal access to opportunities. Promoting equity means giving impetus and direction to impartiality, justice and fairness within policies, procedures and distribution of resources by institutions and organizations.
Inclusion refers to a campus community where all members are and feel respected, have a sense of belonging and are able to participate and achieve to their full potential.
The key to ushering in inclusion is to build on two measures: climate and belonging.
Climate here needs to be understood as “individual’s shared perception of behaviors that are expected and rewarded within a particular organizational context.” An inclusive climate relates to how a team functions and performs based on the quality of social connections, openness to learning, agility, and depth of decision-making. While it is important to ensure that no form of discrimination exists in a workplace, inclusion in this context refers more specifically to individuals’ everyday interactions amongst each other.
Two integral components of creating an inclusive workplace today are to ensure that individuals feel a sense of belonging and a feeling of being valued. Belonging is the intergroup dynamics that make a person feel valued. Poor inter group dynamics feel make an individual feel de-valued and will cause them to retreat and disengage, reducing their ability to give their best performance. There are many reasons people may feel like they don’t belong, but they all stem from a common denominator — unconscious/implicit bias.
In conclusion, remember, “Diversity requires equity, equity requires inclusion and inclusion requires empathy.” Empathy is the primary virtue of a good physician. We’ll cultivate that well here at Geisinger.
- Ali Chittalia, MD, MHA (He/Him)
GME House Staff DEI Council
Chinma Ugorji, MD, MScPH (She/Her)
Founder and President
Chinma Ugorji is a Medicine/Pediatrics resident. Born in Houston, Texas, she spent her formative years living in Lagos, Nigeria before returning to Texas to complete her high school education. She received her Bachelor of Science from Texas A&M University. She then earned a Master of Science in Public Health – Health Services Research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She went on to graduate from Baylor College of Medicine in 2020. Her academic interests include DEI, clinical education and hospital medicine. Upon graduation, she plans to work as a dual pediatric and internal medicine hospitalist.
Hazem Shuaeib, DDS (He/Him)
Vice President and Mentorship Committee Chair
Hazem Shuaeib is an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery resident. He was born and raised in Idlib, Syria, and moved to the U.S. after college. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Columbia University, College of Dental Medicine in 2020. His academic social interests include serving underprivileged communities and mission trips.
Tanya Nanongkhai, MD (She/They)
Inclusion Committee Chair
Tanya Nanongkhai is a pediatric resident from California and Texas. She spent her undergraduate years at the University of North Texas where she received her B.S. in Biology. She went on to pursue a medical degree from St. George's University in Grenada. After residency, she plans to pursue general outpatient pediatrics and advocate in the fight against child abuse.
Lori Trout, MD, MBA (She/Her)
Community Engagement Committee Chair
Lori Trout is a rural community medicine physician. She has served as a professor of medicine and associate dean for several international medical schools. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas, and her Master of Business Administration from St. Leo Catholic University in St. Leo, Florida. She then earned her medical degree from the University of Health Sciences Antigua School of Medicine. Her academic interests include child and elder advocacy, medical ethics and medical equity for underserved and underrecognized populations. She’s also a proponent for decreasing overtreatment healthcare. She plans to continue working in academic and clinical medicine.
Ali Chittalia, MD, MHA (He/Him)
Aliasgar Chittalia hs been a primary care physician for Geisinger Community Medicine since 2007. He is a clinician educator, scholar and mentor who contributes immensely to educational programs at Geisinger. As the director of diversity, equity and inclusion for Graduate Medical Education, he works to implement and support the core principles of ACGME Equity Matters. He is also a physician informatician and works closely in the field of Health Equity with the Geisinger DEI Council. Dr. Chittalia has had several national presentations and publications and was awarded the Pennsylvania Diversity Council Leadership award in 2019 for his work in improving healthcare delivery to our LQBTQ+ patients. He serves on the Primary Care Advisory Board for EPIC Corporation and served on the Steering Board of Hospital Association of Pennsylvania to reduce health care disparities in the state.