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SIU Medicine Names New Associate Dean for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion

June 12, 2017

El-Amin to focus on education, patient care, community improvements

SIU Medicine has named Wendi Wills El-Amin, MD, its new associate dean for equity, diversity and inclusion. El-Amin is an associate professor of family and community medicine and medical education. She also heads the Academic Enhancement Program in the Department of Medical Education. Her new role begins Aug. 1.

El-Amin succeeds Wesley Robinson McNeese, MD, who will continue with SIU Medicine in a focused role and head the SIU System Director of Diversity Initiatives. Building on SIU Medicine’s continued commitment to diversity and inclusion, El-Amin’s three-tiered mission is aimed at fostering community partnerships, enhancing the cultural competence of medical students, faculty, and staff and creating more opportunities for students K-12 to find their passion for medicine.

“Over the past year, Dr. El-Amin has been involved in the work we have undertaken to enhance equity, diversity and inclusiveness and to dismantle systemic racism,” said SIU Medicine Dean and Provost Jerry Kruse, MD, MSPH. “Diversity coupled with inclusion brings about a nurturing educational environment ideal for learners at all levels, the faculty who teach and the staff who support.”

The Texas native hopes to expand SIU Medicine’s Physician Preparatory Pipeline Program (P4), an after-school program designed to jumpstart high school students’ medical careers. El-Amin plans to launch similar initiatives for elementary and junior high students.

“The P4 Program is one of our landmark programs. It has been very successful. I am planning to implement strategies that expand the program into K-8,” said El-Amin, noting that the academic foundation and exposure in elementary school is an essential element to enhancing the diversity of medical providers.

Working with the Department of Medical Education, El-Amin also hopes to further integrate culturally responsive teaching into medical students’ curriculum to better address health disparities.

“Medical schools and medicine have a unique culture with a history of being very hierarchical, and it can be challenging for people to come in and be their authentic selves,” El-Amin said. “We need to create safe spaces where inclusivity is a priority.”

A family medicine physician at heart, El-Amin has also set her sights on improving patient care. “Everyone has an essential role to make sure we're providing culturally responsive care, and that begins at the front desk,” she said.

El-Amin earned her bachelor’s degree at Hampton University in Hampton, Va. She earned her medical degree at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, before completing a family medicine residency at the University of Texas at Houston.

Before joining SIU Medicine in 2013, El-Amin served as the director of the University of Virginia’s Cancer Center Disparity Initiative and the Outreach Center on Health Disparities. She also serves as the chair of the Women’s Health Section for the National Medical Association.