Diversity Leader: CI MED Student Elected to Leadership Role in National Organization

May 14, 2024
Carle Illinois College of Medicine

Written by Carle Illinois College of Medicine

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A Carle Illinois College of Medicine student is advancing the cause of diversity in medical education through her new leadership role in a national organization. Diamond Ruby Coleman has been elected as the Regional Director for the midwestern region of the Student National Medical Association. The organization supports minoritized students who have historically been excluded from medicine and addresses the needs of disenfranchised communities.

<em>Diamond Ruby Coleman</em>
Diamond Ruby Coleman

“My purpose in being here is to leave a wedge in the door behind me,” Coleman said. She aims to help create an infrastructure that changes the face of medicine. “It's my goal to see more representation of people who look like me, while also recognizing the crucial role of those who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) because it’s essential to acknowledge that solidarity in appearance doesn’t always equate to solidarity in purpose,” Coleman said.

One way of doing that, says Coleman, is creating pathway programs for pre-medical undergraduates from racial and ethnic groups who are underrepresented in medicine as they seek admittance into medical school. Coleman says it’s crucial to continue to support underrepresented medical students’ successful match into residency. “Due to recent attacks on DEI, I am committed to strategically enhancing pathways from pre-medical education to residency training while emphasizing the importance of mentorship matching. Personally, I attribute my success to the guidance of mentors I’ve had that span from current medical students to attendings [attending physicians].”

She said the task has become more difficult with last year’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down race-conscious admissions practices at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. However, Coleman says she plans to prioritize the integration of DEI principles into conference planning for three upcoming SNMA conferences, including the Regional Leadership Institute at CI MED this fall, the Regional Medical Conference (RMEC), and the upcoming AMEC 2025, to be hosted by the region that Coleman represents.  She hopes to foster an environment where all aspiring and practicing physicians can thrive regardless of background or identity.

One of ten regional directors, Coleman was elected to a two-year term representing SNMA members in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Previously, she served as president of the CI MED chapter of the SNMA. Gregory Ridgel will succeed Coleman as leader of the CI MED chapter.

Coleman, who holds a master’s degree in global health, eagerly anticipates her second term. She will be required to sit on two National SNMA committees. She hopes to include the Health and Policy Advocacy Committee as her second assignment, complementing her current role on the Conference Planning Committee, where she hopes to fine-tune her skills as a social innovator. “It teaches you how to use your voice and your power as a budding physician to really impact change,” Coleman said. The role fits well with her career aspirations, which include a role in policy development. “The biggest impact happens when laws are changed. I want to be in the room where I am creating these laws that are impacting citizens, patients, and med students,” she said.

SNMA is made up of more than 190 chapters, representing some 6000 medical students in the US and the Caribbean. It also encompasses more than 200 chapters of the Medical Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS).

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This story was published May 14, 2024.