Diversity in Clinical Science

Ethics and diversity represent foundational professional competencies of both research and practice critical to a successful career in psychological clinical science. Hence, they are introduced early and revisited often. Ethics underlies patient care (e.g., awareness of personal bias, managing uncertainty, privacy and confidentiality, team-based decision making and treatment planning, aligning practice with codes of professional conduct) and research activities (e.g., informed consent, representative sampling, inclusion of underrepresented minority groups, culturally meaningful measurement, familiarity and compliance with IRB policies and procedures). Ethical conduct is exemplified by respect for cultural diversity and individual differences that characterize patients, participants, and populations receiving and participating in prevention, treatment, and healthcare services and research. Informed by a rich body of literature, we identified several advantages to integrating ethics and diversity education throughout training and curriculum formats, thus providing students important opportunities to advance their knowledge and application of knowledge in an increasingly sophisticated way and to consider a wide variety of faculty experiences and perspectives, with ongoing dialogue in small (research meetings, clinical supervision) and large (classes, speaker series) groups.

Faculty Research: Several faculty conduct research that directly explores issues of diversity as related to mental health. Among diversity groups represented in faculty research are ethnic/racial minorities and families living in urban poverty (Bagner, Frazier, Hart, Parent), rural and geographically underserved families (Comer), infants and toddlers with developmental delay and disability (Bagner), and young adults that are HIV positive (Gonzalez). Among diversity groups represented in student research are youth with chronic illness, youth with traumatic brain injury, racial/ethnic minority youth, youth in poverty, and infants/toddlers with disabilities. We are fortunate that South Florida has a great deal of racial/ethnic diversity (66% Hispanic or Latino, 19% Black or African American) ensuring that a majority of research samples are heterogeneous and facilitate discussion within research teams about ethical considerations regarding research with diverse families.

Clinical Practicum: Students begin their clinical training with a 2-course sequence in Foundation Practicum that includes significant attention to issues of diversity and ethics. Advanced Practicum operate through our partnering CCF, which opened its doors to families around the same time that our program was launched, approximately seven years ago. During that time, approximately 10,000 families have been assessed and treated, and recent demographic data illustrate heterogeneity of families served: 68% Latino, 13% Caucasian, 19% Black. Additionally, many faculty who conduct research in the community offer Advanced Practicum opportunities for students in the communities they serve, which include working in Miami Dade County Public Schools, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and University of Miami Mailman Center.