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VIVA: Member Spotlight EDI: EVMS

Virginia's Academic Library Consortium

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Approaches to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion: 

Eastern Virginia Medical School



What would you like to share about EDI work done at your library or at your institution?

The Brickell Medical Sciences Library has a Cultural Awareness collection and is in the process of adding more items to the collection. The purpose of the collection is to provide resources that broaden multicultural awareness. The collection supports students who are and will be working with diverse patients in a variety of healthcare settings.  

The Library provides public-access computers and limited printing at no cost for the local community on the first floor of the library. These computers are a wonderful resource for the local community. The Library is located across the street from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and Sentara Norfolk General Hospital on campus. Patients and visitors of patients come to the library to utilize our resources for learning more about diagnoses, medications, medical procedures, and other medical and health research.

The librarians have developed community oriented LibGuides and online tutorials to help the local community with health information. The Consumer Health guide provides the local community many reliable resources to help find information regarding a variety of health-related issues. There are several webpages to the guide for the local community including information on how to evaluate health resources, local resources, the top 10 health issues in Hampton Roads, EVMS resources, and more. The Library also developed a COVID-19 guide that has information on hot topics including masks, vaccines, variants, Brickell Library updates, assessment and testing resources, and more. 

In 2019, the Brickell Medical Sciences Library was the recipient of the Southeastern Atlantic Region (SEA) All of Us Community Engagement Award which was funded through the National Institute of Health All of Us Research Program. The library used the funds from the award to upgrade the public-access computers and purchased equity, diversity, and inclusion medical and health materials creating the All of US Research Program collection. Through this award the reference librarians provided outreach to the local community partnering with Norfolk Public Library to provide training on the use of health and medical resources, research strategies finding health and medical information, and understanding health information specific to Hampton Roads.  

All of Us Public Access Computers Library Staff

In addition to serving the academic needs of EVMS, the clinical medical librarians also provide great service and resources to healthcare providers. They are part of the healthcare team attending hospital rounds with physicians and residents at the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters located on campus. In doing so, the clinical medical librarians assist with medical research needed for patient care.

EVMS chose cultural humility as its Quality Enhancement Plan focus for SACSCOC accreditation.  After holding 30 meetings involving over 200 students, faculty, and staff, cultural humility was identified as the topic. It was the students’ most referred to topic that will prepare them for their careers in healthcare.

Early in 2021, U.S. News & World Report issued its diversity index ranking medical schools based on enrollment of under-represented minorities as of Fall 2020. EVMS is ranked among the nation’s top third for diversity. There are 118 institutions that made the diversity index and EVMS is ranked 39 placing it ahead of all other medical schools in Virginia.  

One of many ways in which EVMS supports EDI in the community is through the HOPES Free Clinic providing healthcare to individuals who are uninsured. The HOPES acronym stands for the Health Outreach Partnership of EVMS Students. This is the only free health clinic in Norfolk and the first student run clinic in Virginia.  The clinic has seen over 1000 patients. It has a weekly capacity of 20 to 25 patients being seen with the clinic open two evenings per week.  EVMS students, residents, and physicians volunteer at the clinic working together.

HOPES Clinic 

Another way EVMS students are active in supporting EDI in the community is through Beyond Clinic Walls (BCW). The BCW connects students with older adults in the Norfolk area who are living in isolated environments. There are two opportunities students can choose from. One of the opportunities is the HealthWise Technology Coaching project where students teach older adults to learn or refine computer skills to become more engaged with others. The other opportunity is the Home Visitation project where students are paired with an older adult and provide companionship and help with supporting staying independent and quality of life.

EVMS offers a grant for equity and diversity named the Dr. L.D. Britt Grant for Health Equity and Diversity. It is in honor of L.D. Britt, MD, MPH, who is the Edward J. Brickhouse Chair in Surgery, the Henry Ford Professor of Surgery, and Professor and Chair of Surgery at EVMS. The grant provides faculty and scholars startup funds for collaborative research on diversity and health equity.

In 2017-2018, Dr. Britt was awarded a $2.9 million grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) on behalf of the American College of Surgeons to lead a national study to address disparities in healthcare access. The grant focuses on closing the major divide in access to healthcare. Through the grant, the NIH partnered with the American College of Surgeons where Dr. Britt served as president and he challenged the ACS to eliminate the disparity in healthcare access. The grant brought together the nation’s leading researchers with the largest surgical data repository in the country. While the surgery specialty took the lead, the recommendations can be applied anywhere in the country and across all medical specialties.   

Dr. L.D. Britt with new textbook

Another way EVMS supports EDI is the women’s health e-book form Alfred Abuhamad, MD,  that has made a global impact. Alfred Abuhamad, MD, Interim President, Provost and Dean of the School of Medicine, the Mason C. Andrews Chair in Obstetrics and Gynecology, Vice Dean for Clinical Affairs, and Professor and Chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology, traveled the world as a medical volunteer and saw the difficulty in being able to access reliable information on women’s healthcare needs. As a result of this need it led him to develop an open-access digital textbook providing a comprehensive review of ultrasound in obstetrics and gynecology. Since the e-book “Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology: A Practical Approach” was published in 2014, it has been downloaded from EVMS’ website more than 75,000 times and translated into eight languages from English. It is also now available in Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Farsi, Portuguese, Italian, and Czech.


What are your library and/or institutional plans for future EDI efforts?

The Brickell Medical Sciences Library plans on expanding the clinical medical sciences program. In doing so the goal of the Library is to expand CML support into other specialties in healthcare. The Library would like to provide greater outreach to the local community once we are in the COVID post-pandemic. In doing so, the Library is looking for partnerships with other departments that can work together in providing community outreach.

The Eastern Virginia Medical School strategic plan (2020-2024) focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion in healthcare being the driving force for meeting its academic mission and in community advancement. The following strategic priorities were established to meet current and future needs: Provide Enriched Training and Assessment for Access and Success; Foster and Maintain a Diverse Workforce and Learner Population; Strengthen Community Engagement and Health Equity; Enhance Health Equity Research and Clinical Services Delivery; Benchmark for Excellence. 

Beginning in early 2022, EVMS will launch an $800,000 research project focused on diabetes in Western Tidewater. The project will measure the impact of a coordinated multi-faceted approach to providing access to diabetes education to reduce hospitalizations and complications from diabetes. It will be led by David Lieb, MD, who is an endocrinologist, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at EVMS, and Medical Director for the project. Western Tidewater is a rural area including Surry County, Isle of Wight County, Suffolk City, Gates County (NC), Franklin City, Southampton County, and Sussex County. In an article about the project in the November 2021 issue of EVMSPulse, Dr. Lieb points out that residents in Western Tidewater are more likely to have diabetes than other areas of Virginia, have high traditional risk factors of diabetes, and there is a large African-American population who are twice as likely to be hospitalized with complications from diabetes compared to whites.


The past 18 months have held many challenges and changes. How have you grown and learned to do things better? Were there initiatives that didn’t go as you had planned or things you would do differently in the future?

The past 18 months has shown how agile an organization the Brickell Medical Sciences Library is in providing its services and resources. Because the library was already heavily relying on digital online resources and services we were able to very quickly transition services to the online environment in March 2020. We also never closed and kept operations going throughout the entire pandemic. It was challenging as other libraries closed for a period of time and this increased our interlibrary loan operations especially for lending. We found ways of getting items to our patrons when our users were unable to enter the library building including curb-side pick up and return. The area that was impacted greatly was library outreach to the community. We were unable to physically provide outreach to the community during the pandemic but we were able to address the information needs of community members through email and phone service.

Although the EVMS Library was open, many students and faculty worked off-campus since classes were virtual. We used virtual tools like Zoom to meet with many of our users to provide research consultations. These consultations actually increased during the pandemic since faculty had more time to do research and students turned to alternative forms of research including systematic reviews since our physical labs were closed. Library staff also developed expertise in online learning platforms and produced over 50 recorded instructional modules to support the curriculum and library instruction needs. 

Most of our meetings have been online through Zoom and other online conference platforms during this period providing the staff the ability to stay connected throughout the pandemic. It brought staff together who were working on campus and remote. It may have changed the way meetings will be held in the future even beyond the pandemic because it allows people to join the meeting from any location.