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Voices: ATSU leaders discuss diversity, equity, and inclusion

Dr. Poonam Jain

Featuring Poonam Jain, BDS, MS, MPH
Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs and Advanced Dental Education
St. Louis Dental Center, ATSU-MOSDOH

On the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion at ATSU, I will focus on the St. Louis Dental Center, which houses the main clinic for ATSU-MOSDOH. I will never forget the first time I walked through the front doors of the center. I was struck by the diversity of patients waiting in line to check in, the staff at the front desk, the few students and faculty who were walking in or out of the front lobby, and the staff members who stopped by the front desk to talk with the receptionists. Although most dental schools have a diverse population of patients, this was different. The diversity I refer to here spanned across ethnicity, race, languages spoken, age, gender, socioeconomic status, and physical ability.

Later, after I joined the School as an administrator, I learned ATSU had been the proud recipient of the Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for several years. This award is certainly well deserved. The patients we serve at the St. Louis Dental Center speak about 56 different languages and come from diverse backgrounds, and the center affords equal opportunity for each patient to receive the highest quality dental care at affordable prices. The faculty and staff members who serve at the center are diverse as well. The School has a system of shared governance and includes the input from students, faculty, and staff in the decision-making process. The goal is to empower our students and employees to have a voice in the decisions affecting us all. This is, of course, not an easy or comfortable process at all times, but in the end, the only way to move forward in this ever-changing global environment. I am proud to work for ATSU, which really acts on its stated mission, and that gets me through some of my toughest days here.


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