“Walking the Walk”
A Conversation with Daniele Ölveczky, MD, Faculty Director, Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

For nearly 20 years, Daniele Ölveczky, MD, has cared for patients as a hospitalist and geriatrician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). In February 2022, she stepped into the role of Faculty Director of BIDMC’s Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. An experienced physician, Ölveczky has a deep understanding of issues relating to diversity, equity, and inclusion as they relate to patient care and the workforce. She is passionate about continually fostering an inclusive workplace for all BIDMC employees and mentoring the next generation of leaders in medicine. We sat down with Ölveczky to hear about why these efforts are more important than ever.

Why is diversity in the healthcare workforce so critical?

Our diverse workforce at BIDMC is an important part of our mission to provide extraordinary care to all. Nearly 40 percent of our patients are non-white, and our workforce must reflect the communities we serve. Simply put, diverse teams outperform non-diverse teams. A more diverse workforce enhances the patient care experience by providing culturally competent care. I strongly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion are absolutely critical to our success as an organization.

What are the most important advances BIDMC has made around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Fortunately, over the past three years, we have made great strides in recruiting and retaining a more diverse workforce to serve our patients. In fact, our underrepresented minority (URM) hires have increased by 220 percent over this period of time. To achieve this, we created a data-driven strategic plan and executed it in a systematic manner. I am so proud of this work, and it must continue. Although there is always room for improvement, we aren’t just talking the talk now. We’re walking the walk.

Daniele Ölveczky, MD

As Faculty Director, can you speak more to why this work is essential from a recruitment standpoint?

Diversity and inclusion are among the most important issues of our time, along with climate change. Job applicants want to know about the diversity of our workforce, and the work we are doing in this space. It’s clear that they consider diversity to be a deciding factor when choosing to work here. When we can demonstrate that we are a diverse and inclusive organization, we can attract and retain top talent. Due to our advancements in this vital area, I believe BIDMC is poised to become the employer of choice in medicine—not just locally, but nationally. This is related directly to realizing our DEI vision for the Beth Israel Lahey Health system, which is transforming care delivery by dismantling barriers to equitable health outcomes, while becoming the premier health system to attract, retain, and develop diverse talent.

What is the best way for our faculty and staff to engage with the community?

It is incredibly important to build strong relationships with people from all walks of life, and that includes engaging younger people in the community—the next generation. We can do this by inviting those who are just beginning their careers in science and medicine to work with us. Last summer, we had four students from Dillard University, a historically Black university, spend six weeks in Boston doing research work. This was an invaluable experience for them that was only made possible through generous donations—and one of our students was invited to present her research at an international meeting in London, alongside one of our postdocs.

I have been truly impressed at the goodwill of our BIDMC researchers and faculty. Just four minutes after sending out a request for research mentors for these students, we secured 14 volunteers to host them. It’s also important for us to reach out to elementary and middle school students in the community as well. Last December, we interacted with 800 eighth graders from across the state at a Junior Achievement USA event, where we held engaging conversations about what it is like to have a career in medicine.

You mentioned BIDMC is “becoming the employer of choice in academic medicine.” Can you elaborate on this idea?

We’ve placed a high priority on emphasizing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace—and many of our applicants care about this. It’s clear to them that our mission and values align with theirs. In addition, we’ve invested considerably in our facilities. For example, the new Klarman Building is a state-of-the-art inpatient facility that just opened its doors. This new building offers a beautiful healing environment that helps patients feel respected. It also represents our ability to do even more, and it’s going to be a major draw for many physicians—really allowing us to continue to recruit top talent and enabling us to continue caring for everyone from every walk of life regardless of where they come from.

All these factors make BIDMC an amazing place to work. We provide an environment of academic excellence with an unwavering commitment to serving the underserved—you do not have to choose.

If you are interested in supporting efforts related to diversity, equity, and inclusion at BIDMC, contact Debbie Smith at dsmith23@bilh.org