Today marks Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the emancipation of African Americans after more than 240 years of slavery. Juneteenth is traditionally steeped in celebration and pride, but this year takes on a deeper significance. More than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, racism persists and is increasingly exposed as a systemic and pervasive problem.

At the same time, Juneteenth celebrates the promise of liberation and the hope for a better tomorrow. I write to you today in that spirit and with a commitment to create real and sustained change at RUSM. We will build a stronger and more inclusive learning system that addresses structural racism, unconscious bias, social justice as well as social determinants of health and advocacy.

That action starts now. This week, we convened the first meeting of a newly established Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce. This 16-person task force is comprised of students, faculty, colleagues and alumni, who are charged with leading a holistic review of diversity and inclusion at RUSM. I’ve asked them to deliver a report of short- and long-term recommendations within the next three months.

We are starting to have the uncomfortable and difficult conversations that are imperative to our success, and we are partnering with allies who will help us develop tangible and lasting results. This task force and these conversations are the first of many steps.   

In the next few weeks, we will communicate our University’s further commitments on how we plan to drive change within our community. In the meantime, we invite you to share feedback with us as the fight for social justice is a community collaboration.   

We are ready to engage, train, educate, advocate and invest in this process to align with the Black community at our University and in all the underrepresented and marginalized communities in which we serve.  

Today is about celebration but it’s also deep reflection. Please join me in taking time to contemplate how we as individuals, as part of the healthcare community, and as RUSM can advocate for change.   

In 2020, 91% of RUSM students passed the initial step of the United States Medical Licensing Examination® (USMLE®) on the first attempt. And in 2022-2023, results show yet another strong year for RUSM with a 98% first-time residency attainment rate* thus far. Located on the island of Barbados and with a network of more than 15,000 alumni, RUSM is one of the largest providers of doctors for the U.S. healthcare system. RUSM graduates practice in all 50 states and in Puerto Rico.

*First time residency attainment rate is the percent of students attaining a 2023-24 residency position out of all graduates or expected graduates in 2022-23 who were active applicants in the 2023 NRMP match or who attained a residency position outside the NRMP match.