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A Note From Ross Hall

Dear SMHS community,

Today, it is well accepted in both higher education and in business that diversity and excellence are intertwined and reinforcing ideas. While it might seem that this is a relatively new concept, the leadership of the George Washington University (GW) School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) has long understood that embracing diversity and inclusivity is essential to building a great school.
In 1884, SMHS enrolled its first female students, distinguishing itself for decades as one of the only medical schools in the nation to admit women. Since then, women have held increasing significance among our student body, and this year women account for 63 percent of the first-year MD class. Less than a decade after SMHS accepted its first female students (Ellen W. Cathcart, Sarah A. Schull, Alice J. White, and Clara Bliss Hinds), GW became the first university in the United States to award a medical degree to a Korean-American (Jaipil [aka Philip Jaisohn] Soh, MD 1892). In 2013, GW appointed the first openly gay dean of a U.S. medical school.
Today, diversity — as it relates to gender, race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and life experiences — is core to our mission. And, inclusivity, collaboration, teamwork, and mutual respect remain hallmarks of the SMHS culture.

Dean Jeffrey Akman
Jeffrey S. Akman, M.D. ’81, RESD ’85, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine Vice President for Health Affairs and Dean, SMHS

This year, we welcomed the most diverse MD class in our history, and we continue to attract internationally recognized faculty and researchers. In this edition of Medicine + Health, you will meet alumnus Mohammad Ali Aziz-Sultan and learn about his journey from Afghanistan to GW and how he became a renowned neurosurgeon and role model. You will also learn how we are expanding our efforts to create a diverse health care workforce by partnering with local high schools to help students from diverse backgrounds access careers in the health professions.

As Dean, I am committed to building a school distinguished by the depth of its diversity, ensuring that our culture supports the aspirations of all who learn and work here, and providing the most culturally competent care for our patients and their families. For more information on our efforts in this area, I encourage you to visit our website at
Warmest regards,

Dean Jeffrey Akman signature

Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85
Vice President for Health Affairs
Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine
and Dean, School of Medicine and Health Sciences