TN lawmakers want to remove DEI requirements from medical, social work fields
A Tennessee bill addresses the entrenchment of DEI in academic and professional life, including the initiatives that professional schools often undergo as a requirement for accreditation.
To keep 'harmful ideologies' out of 'the practice of medicine,' the bill tackles DEI requirements in every aspect of a provider’s training, certification, and practice.
Republican state representatives in Tennessee recently proposed a bill that could eliminate diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in providing services in medicine, wellness, mental health, and social work.
HB0571 addresses the entrenchment of DEI in academic and professional life, including the initiatives that professional schools often undergo as a requirement for accreditation or the way in which major grantors’ shift towards social justice makes commitments to DEI profitable.
To keep “harmful ideologies” out of “the practice of medicine and the education and training of medical personnel,” the bill tackles DEI requirements in every aspect of a provider’s training, certification, and practice. If passed, the bill will go into effect on July 1, 2023 and impact how colleges and universities admit their students, what students learn in class, and even how hospitals, counseling centers, and other providers run their businesses.
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The bill was assigned to the Higher Education Subcommittee on Feb. 1, and it has since gained additional sponsors. A companion bill in the State Senate also seeks to “ensure that state-funded medical providers and educational institutions provide patient care, curricula, and training that serve patients and students equally, regardless of their race or other immutable characteristics.”
For admission to medical school or other certification programs, the bill requires schools to use a standardized test. Over the past few years, even some of the most prestigious medical schools have dropped the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), an effort that Higher Education Fellow Rob Jenkins called a “war on merit.”
The bill also subjects admissions standards to review by the State House, State Senate, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the governing board that oversees the state’s colleges and universities. After students matriculate, the Commission and Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners will certify that they do not have “to study or ascribe to DEI ideologies within [their] medical institution of higher education.”
“Healthcare-related professional licensing boards,” the bill continues, “shall not adopt … any incentives or requirements that applicants for licensures undergo, demonstrate familiarity with, or support any DEI training,” nor can they “conduct internal DEI audits or otherwise engage DEI consultants.”
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Hospitals and clinics are similarly prohibited from requiring employees to subscribe to DEI or engage in DEI training. If state entities must commit to or participate in a DEI initiative “for a federal healthcare-related grant,” then that entity will “[p]ublish on its website all materials, requirements, and instructions related to the federal grant application” and submit its proposal to the State House, State Senate, and Board of Medical Examiners.
Individuals or institutions violating the provisions of the bill could pay more than $100,000 in damages.
Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.