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On Wednesday, February 14th, 2024, UNC Anesthesiology’s Wellness and DEI committees joined forces to promote a sense of “belonging” by bringing their “Table Talks” series to Grand Rounds.  The “Table Talks” model focuses on a diversity topic of interest and engages group discussion in a safe and open manner. Entitled “Workplace Diversity and Team Dynamics,” the February 14th Table Talks discussion featured a panel of UNC Anesthesiology faculty — Fei Chen, Samuel Blacker, Annika Webb, Caryn Hertz, Amy Goetzinger, Seema Patidar, and Skye Margolies — with a range of expertise and experiences in healthcare. At this session, the faculty panel introduced the potential benefits of a diverse workforce based upon a Freakonomics podcast (and the related economics journal article) on the whaling industry as a prompt for discussion.

The podcast and article suggested reasons why diversity may contribute to conflict and a decline before eventually leading to positive change and productivity. Data reviewed emphasized the potential benefits of a diverse healthcare team, including better health outcomes, academic productivity, innovation, and patient satisfaction, among others.

Group discussion led to some key takeaways: 1) There is a lot of value in spending time together, investing in each other and getting to know our teammates. Growth and fast-paced work environments can be barriers to this goal; 2) Conflicts are normal. Making time to address them with respectful communication is essential; 3) If we are a diverse group, we may better connect with our patients in order to give them the best healthcare experience; and 4) There is great benefit to recruiting and maintaining diversity in our department.

The Wellness and DEI committees encourage the UNC School of Medicine community to join the conversation at one of their co-hosted future Table Talks discussions.  Topics may be suggested by emailing the department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Liaison Skye Margolies,