East Tennessee State University Medical School Dean Doubles Down on Equity Ideology in Response to Do No Harm Report

In an internal email obtained by The Tennessee Star from two individuals asking for anonymity, the dean of medicine at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine ridiculed an article published last week highlighting how woke equity policies have infiltrated Tennessee medical schools, claiming it is a “fact” that such diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) ideology has been “repeatedly proven to improve outcomes for our patients and make[s] us better doctors.”

William Block, M.D., dean of medicine at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, sent out an email, in which he defined the words “equity” as “the quality of being fair and impartial,” and “woke” as “aware of and actively attentive to important societal facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

The body of the email states:

Recently, an article in the Tennessee Star reported on a group referring to themselves as ‘Do No Harm’ that claims to be ‘exposing the infiltration of woke ideologies in Tennessee medical schools.’ The premise is that medical schools are short changing the public and future physicians by spending time on concepts related to DEI and social determinants of health and not teaching medical knowledge. I hesitate to provide any additional energy to the story, but feel that we must state a few obvious facts. First, medical students and physicians are smart people with the capacity to learn huge volumes of information. Any time spent on the above topics is added value to the Krebs cycle, not a replacement. Second, the above ideas have been repeatedly proven to improve outcomes for our patients and make us better doctors. As we encounter resistance to improving the lives of all of our patients we must continue to strive to be clear in our messaging and focused on the values that matter.


Love one another … Thanks for all you do. We have much left to be done.



The report by Do No Harm, titled “The DEI Bureaucracy in Tennessee’s Medical Schools: Woke Ideologies Are Reshaping Medical Education in the Volunteer State,” warns of vast implications for medical students and all who receive medical care in the state of Tennessee.

Laura Morgan, MSN, RN, who authored the report for Do No Harm, told The Tennessee Star her organization also received Block’s internal email from an anonymous individual. A blog post on Do No Harm’s website summarizes the group’s response that Block’s position “proves our point.”

“It’s not surprising that the dean would respond by reinforcing the DEI agenda at Quillen College of Medicine,” Morgan told The Star Tuesday. “In doing so, he has proven the point that Do No Harm is making: These institutions are heavily invested in their woke ideologies, and Quillen is among the Tennessee medical schools that are replacing medical education with political indoctrination.”

“The insistence in focusing on social justice and equity instead of instructing students on how to be competent doctors undermines their mission and is a disservice to the patients these future physicians will be treating,” she added.

According to Do No Harm’s report, the Quillen College of Medicine Admissions Committee “says it values experiences and activities that reflect an understanding of ‘ethics and cultural awareness.’”

The report continues:

The college’s commitment to the holistic review process and the DEI agenda is apparent in one of its secondary interview questions:

Social justice, systemic racism, and equity for all have been at the forefront of national conversations. Quillen College of Medicine recognizes that many barriers still exist for persons of color and those from historically underrepresented communities. As a physician you will have opportunities to foster an environment of change for your patients and community. Please share with us your reflections on how your life experiences have impacted the development of your values and attitudes toward others, particularly those with backgrounds or values different from your own.

“The Council of Diversity and Inclusion leads the school’s DEI initiatives within the offices of Admissions and Student Services, Medical Student Education, Graduate Medical Education, and Faculty Affairs,” the Do No Harm report continues, noting as well that, with regard to MD Curriculum, Quillen states, “The Guiding Principles of the Quillen MD Curriculum include improving patient care, “especially by considering social and cultural contexts,” aiming to “reduce bias when possible and promote health equity for all.”

In comments to The Star regarding Block’s email, Jane Orient, M.D., executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), said, “In these days of evidence-based medicine, I suggest two parallel, equally well resourced institutions, traditional and ‘new.’”

Orient explained:

The first recruits faculty based on clinical and scientific accomplishments and students in a color-blind admissions process, based on scores on an objective test of knowledge and a blue-book, on-site essay test. No computer, no spell checker. Questions such as: describe the basic features of circulation of the blood, the structure and function of DNA (or proteins), the essentials involved in conception of a child, … This tests the ability to construct a coherent argument and basic knowledge that should be expected of a college (or high school) graduate.

“Then give patients free choice of where to get their medical care,” she asserted.

In comments last week about DEI programs in medical schools, Orient said they “should be called what they are: anti-white, anti-excellence, anti-science, and anti-Christian.”

“They sacrifice the needs of patients, even their lives, to a totalitarian political ideology,” she added. “It is pervasive in organized medicine as well. The advocacy agenda of the American Medical Association (AMA) and others is completely ‘Woke’ and punishes dissent. The ultimate ‘equity’ is equal immiseration and death.”

The Star reached out to Block for comment, specifically asking him to send the citations for all the evidence supporting the “fact” he asserts in his memo that DEI has been “repeatedly proven to improve outcomes for our patients and makes us better doctors.” To date, no response has been received from him.

Richard Amerling, M.D., a member of the AAPS board of directors and chief academic officer of The Wellness Company, suggested to The  Star that Block should be asked additional questions, such as:

  1. What’s the average MCAT score at your school for an accepted white/Asian student and for an accepted minority (black/hispanic) student?
  2. How is dumbing down admission standards improving patient care?
  3. What’s the scientific basis for the assertion of gender other than biological/chromosomal sex?

“Critical Race Theory, gender fluidity and transitioning, and other aspects of wokeism have made their way into medical school curricula, enforced by the Association of American Medical Colleges, which is an accrediting agency,” Amerling told The Star last week, noting his personal experience:

As a former Professor at St. George’s University, I personally witnessed the dumbing down of medical school admissions and training. If anything, it’s worse in the US. According to Heather MacDonald, the average MCAT score for an accepted minority applicant is about 50% less than an accepted Caucasian or Asian applicant. As she said in a recent interview, you can have diversity or meritocracy, but not both.

Regarding Block’s definition of “equity,” as The Star News Network reported Monday, a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights wrote to Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH-13), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, with the warning that Joe Biden’s sweeping executive order embedding radical equity ideology in all agencies of the executive branch is a “Trojan Horse” that represents “a major step toward socialism.”

Peter Kirsanow highlighted in his March 2 letter to Jordan that while “the key promise of civil rights statutes is equal opportunity,” civil rights still “do not promise equal outcomes.”

“Since we are all different, the only way to achieve equal outcomes is by putting a thumb on the scale, i.e., through some form of discrimination,” Kirsanow wrote. “Discrimination on the basis of skill, hard work, and proficiency is necessary and lawful. Discrimination on the basis of immutable characteristics unrelated to performance is idiotic and unlawful.”

A labor and employment attorney, Kirsanow asserted there are “multiple problems with, and questions raised by” the definition of equity used by woke ideologues.

“First, why the use of the term ‘equity’ instead of ‘equality?’” he asked. “Clearly, because ‘equality’ means treating everyone the same, and ‘equity’ means ensuring that outcomes are the same.”

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Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “William Block” by East Tennessee State University.


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8 Thoughts to “East Tennessee State University Medical School Dean Doubles Down on Equity Ideology in Response to Do No Harm Report”

  1. JRin

    “Equality” means every person gets an equal chance to attain an outcome.
    “Equity” means every person gets the same outcome.

    Would you go to your Doctor because he was one of the best among those who attended medical school (equality), or because he graduated medical school just because he was accepted to medical school (equity).


    It will be interesting to see if the Star gets any of those studies. I highly doubt they will because there aren’t any repeatedly proven studies on the positive effects of DEI except maybe by people selling DEI. As a patient I could care less about their DEI knowledge. I want a doctor that is skilled in treating sick people and performing safe, effective surgery when needed. I wonder if anyone has looked into any federal money that might be made available to these schools for following the woke agenda. If I were a student at this college I would be extremely insulted because this guy is insinuating that their students are racist and don’t care about their patients regardless of skin color, ethnicity or economic status.

  3. John Bumpus

    William A. Block, Jr. MD, MBA, dean of medicine at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine, a very intelligent man, no doubt, but he doesn’t appear to have a ‘lick’ of common sense. Our colleges and universities are ‘full of them.’ WHO hires these people and then gives them the authority that they exercise to do great damage to our public institutions? Do these most senior administrators and institutional boards of directors not also bear the responsibility for retaining these ‘goofs’? Maybe it is just time–to my way of thinking, long past time–for the Tennessee General Assembly to formally investigate these institutions, let the facts lead where they will, and then have some good, thorough ‘house-cleanings’–top to bottom!

  4. Steve Allen

    If I was going in for surgery the LAST PERSON I want my life in the hands of is someone who graduated because of the color of their skin instead of they’re intelligence.

  5. Joe Blow

    We will be waiting until the cows come home for Mr. Block to provide objective proof that this bastardization of medical schools has improved patient care.

  6. ccw

    How about doing the wise thing and institute pilot projects like Blackwell suggests. We design and test most everything on computers now, but that leaves out the important feature of Human Nature. Include tests on pilot projects that verify and validate human nature, cost, sustainabiity, durability, efficiency, and useability. Be careful about wholesale implementation of processes or policies that have questionable results without testing first. In some schools, to ignore that pilot step, is called foolishness.

  7. FJB

    Pull all State funding until that clown is fired.

  8. David Blackwell RN, BSN, CCM

    Well when I went through my nursing program at the University of Mississippi, the new Doctor’s Plaza, attached to the Hospital, had a beautiful solarium and a McDonalds right in the middle. It was an equal opportunity McDonald’s and would Super Size anyone that asked, black, white, brown, trans. You name it. All you had to tell them was “super size me.” #rootcause