Dear colleagues,

April is National Minority Health Month, as designated by the U.S. Congress in 2002. With origins in Booker T. Washington’s 1915 establishment of National Negro Health Week, the month-long observation builds awareness about the importance of reducing health disparities among racial and ethnic minorities.

This year’s theme, chosen by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, is “Better Health Through Better Understanding.” The theme aims to improve patient health outcomes by providing culturally and linguistically appropriate information for racial and ethnic minority communities.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies show that racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. experience higher rates of illness and premature death across a broad spectrum of health conditions when compared to their white counterparts.

As they transition to the new School of Population Health, we would like to acknowledge the Department of Health Behavior and Policy, faculty, students and trainees who are conducting innovative research to identify and address the behavioral, social, organizational and policy factors that affect the health of individuals and populations. Read more about the department’s achievements and dedication to addressing widespread health disparities:

Along with the work being done in the School of Medicine, the VCU Office of Health Equity has released two educational series for university and health system community members:

  • The Equitable Access to Care Series, which examines how racism and other social determinants of health impact the quality of health care
  • The Racial Equity Series, which explores how VCU Health’s complex history affects patients and ways to improve health care for all

Each multi-part series contains event recordings and online learning modules on topics like making ethical health care decisions, skepticism around clinical trials and the fundamentals of race and racism.

In collaboration with the university, VCU Health and the community at large, the School of Medicine remains committed to training the next generation of culturally competent physicians and scientists, addressing the root causes of health disparities and improving the quality of health care for all.


David Chelmow, M.D.
Interim Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System

Kevin Harris, Ph.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion