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Championing Diversity in Medicine: Ingrid Mapanao's Vision for an Inclusive Future

News April 30, 2024

Ingrid MapanaoIngrid Mapanao, MSW, MPH, is pioneering a future where health equity, diversity, and inclusion are at the forefront of medical education. As the Program Coordinator at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Office of Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, her work is instrumental in shaping a healthcare workforce that mirrors the diversity of the community it serves, often while handling strategies, successes, and the challenges faced in her vital role.

Mapanao notes the importance of being intentional in developing Diversity Equity & Inclusion (DEI) programs, underlining the importance of her mission: "Incorporating the principles of health equity, diversity, and inclusion into the programs I oversee is fundamental to my work." The disparities in racial and ethnic representation within the medical field are staggering, with underrepresented minorities making up a minute fraction of physicians in the U.S. with just 5% being Black or African American, 6% Hispanic, 0.3% American Indian or Alaska Native, and 0.1% Pacific Islander.

Mapanao's approach to addressing this imbalance involves a blend of her extensive background in social work and public health, focusing on initiatives like Mini Medical School. "This program offers a glimpse into the medical school experience for Philly high school students who are racially underrepresented in medicine and inspires them to consider healthcare as a potential career option. Diversifying the healthcare workforce can significantly impact minority health outcomes," she explains. 

Reflecting on National Minority Health Month, observed in April, Mapanao discussed a particular challenge she encountered with the limited support provided to Asian/Asian American medical students, noting, "Although they are not categorized as underrepresented in medicine, Asians encounter significant levels of discrimination." Her efforts to integrate Asian medical students into DEI initiatives have made tangible improvements, showcasing her commitment to inclusivity. 

During Celebrate Diversity Month also observed in April, she emphasizes the importance of culturally sensitive programs. "Involving community members at every planning stage ensures our initiatives meet the needs of underrepresented communities," she asserts. This strategy has been crucial in building strong, trusting relationships with diverse communities. 

Looking ahead to AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) Heritage Month, observed in May, Mapanao highlights the unique health concerns faced by the AAPI community, often overlooked due to the model minority stereotype. Her work with Temple University’s AAPI Staff & Faculty Affinity Group has been pivotal in promoting health equity and visibility for the AAPI community. 

As for the future, Mapanao is excited about the generational shift in attitudes toward health equity, diversity, and inclusion. "There is a growing demand to incorporate social determinants of health, social justice, and equity into the medical education curriculum," she observes. Mapanao plans to integrate these topics into her work at Katz, fostering a more inclusive and equitable healthcare environment.

Mapanao's parting words resonate with a call to action: "Regardless of what field or position you’re in, health equity is everyone’s work." Her vision and dedication to transforming medical education and the healthcare delivery landscape promise a more inclusive and equitable future for all.