Since 1876, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and its member institutions have been focused on being part of the solution to improve the nation’s healthcare system through medical education. 

Improving the health of people everywhere, the AAMC is a leader in making progress towards health equity, so communities can access the healthcare they need from a diverse, inclusive and culturally responsible physician workforce. In this spirit each year, the AAMC honors individuals who are making significant contributions to improving the health of all. 

Dedicated to supporting health equity across the University of Minnesota Medical School, two senior leaders and a medical student have received top recognition from the AAMC for their efforts as part of the Medical School’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (ODEI). 

Dr. Mary Owen Receives the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion Exemplary Leadership Award

This year, the selection committee of the Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) Exemplary Leadership Award honored Mary J. Owen, MD(Tlingit), director of the CAIMH and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health

Joining the CAIMH in 2014, Dr. Owen has been instrumental in recruiting and retaining the academic track for AI/AN medical students, where the Medical School, Duluth Campus is ranked second in the nation for graduating future American Indian physicians. In addition to educating first and second-year medical students, Dr. Owen also teaches Native health to the Duluth Family Medicine Residents regarding direct care and advocacy for AI/AN patients. 

“Injustice fuels my passion,” Dr. Owen said. “I was raised in a family that always spoke up and actively pursued justice for people and communities that often didn’t have the voice to do so.” 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Owen worked closely with Tribal Health Directors and the Minnesota Department of Health to meet regularly to ensure that Native communities were provided with the most accurate information and resources during the evolving health crisis. 

Her contributions are deeply impactful, extending beyond the Medical School and helping to repair relationships between Tribal Nations and the University of Minnesota community. “We are thrilled that the AAMC’s GDI Exemplary Leader of 2021 is our own, Dr. Mary Owen,” said Ana Núñez, MD, FACP, vice dean for diversity, equity and inclusion for the Medical School and professor in the Department of Medicine. “Dr. Owen’s work, passion and dedication to enhancing the lives of members of our Native communities have positioned her to be a change-maker and role model for others.” 

Dr. Ana Núñez Appointed as Chair-Elect to the AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee

Supporting academic medicine and AAMC partner institutions, the Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) Steering Committee fosters the benefits of diversity and inclusion in medicine. 

The national group of elected health professionals works together to introduce innovative DEI initiatives across academia and in communities. The AAMC recently announced its incoming GDI cohort, naming Dr. Núñez as the Chair-elect. 

A national leader in health equity, Dr. Núñez joined the Medical School in 2020 to lead ODEI as the inaugural vice dean. Known as the ‘Collaborator-in-Chief,’ Dr. Núñez works across all areas of the Medical School, collaborating with faculty, staff, students and community partners to ensure a culturally safe environment for all. 

“Being elected Chair-elect is a huge honor,” Dr. Núñez said. “The AAMC national group on diversity and inclusion executive committee’s ‘alumni’ chairs are giants in the field of D&I. It is such an important time to do this work — we have so many amazing members across our networks, and we have so many synergies that we can develop.” 

Consisting of five regional positions, GDI members each serve a two-year term. As Chair-elect, Dr. Núñez will serve two years in the position, following two years as Chair and one year as Immediate Past Chair until 2026. 

Tegan M. Carr Earns AAMC 2021 Herbert W. Nickens Student Scholarship Award

Third-year medical student, Tegan M. Carr, who started on the Medical School, Duluth Campus, was one of five individuals to receive a $5,000 AAMC 2021 Herbert W. Nickens Student Scholarship Award

The scholarship commemorates the legacy of Dr. Herbert W. Nickens, the first vice president of the AAMC’s Division of Minority Health, Education and Prevention. 

The scholarship recognizes outstanding medical students who have demonstrated leadership to eliminate inequities in medical education and healthcare and have demonstrated leadership initiative in addressing educational, societal and healthcare needs of racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S.
Carr serves as chief diversity officer, representing the Medical School, Duluth Campus and is a DEI Ambassador of ODEI. She is the founder of theTask Force for Change (TF4C), a Duluth campus-based collective for propagating equity and safe spaces in medicine, as well as an early member of the Medical Education Reform Student Coalition (MERSC). Carr is a leader of academic reform within the Medical School and has been instrumental in the design and implementation of novel DEI-engaged curricula.

“Anyone that gives themselves to advocacy work knows that reward and recognition are not to be expected,” Carr said. “In fact, my experience has been that I am just as likely to meet resistance as I am appreciation. To look up the list and find that I'm being recognized on a national scale brings on a feeling that is difficult to put into words.” 

Carr is also training to address healthcare disparities in addiction and provide care for BIPOC populations disproportionately impacted by addiction through the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry and Yale School of Medicine as part of the REACH program.

“I am filled with so much gratitude for the extraordinary Black and Brown women leaders who serve as my mentors and who recommended me for this award, and for those of my peers who held the frontline alongside me and who are some of the bravest people I know,” Carr said. “I am grateful to the AAMC for their support and for making an award like this possible. The existence of these awards makes a powerful statement about the values of the AAMC.”

“Tegan has worked in addiction and psychiatric science research and has been a catalyst for change in innovative anti-racist curricular development,” Dr. Núñez said. “We are so fortunate to have all this talent at the University of Minnesota Medical School."

Members of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Well-Recognized by the AAMC

Dr. Mary J. Owen (centered) takes a photo with the 2021 AAMC Group on Diversity and Inclusion (GDI) Exemplary Leadership Award with her CAIMH colleagues.