School of Medicine award recognizes promotion of equity, inclusion, diversity and anti-racism

June 19, 2023

Trevor Sutton poses for a picture

Anesthesiologist Trevor Sutton, MD, MBA, CPE, is honored to be one of the first recipients of the Promotion of Equity, Inclusion, Diversity and Anti-Racism Faculty Awards of the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine. Sutton was among several faculty recognized with special awards during the 2023 Faculty Celebration of the School of Medicine on June 1.

The new award celebrates School of Medicine faculty demonstrating dedication to promoting the values of diversity and inclusivity demonstrated in areas that may include direct teaching of learners, in the care of patients and communities, through advocacy, and scholarly activities.

“When you focus on something, it becomes apparent,” said Sutton. “Kudos to Quinnipiac for even having a DEI and anti-racism award. A lot of credit goes to the university because they’ve made this a priority. When you do that, you can identify people who are doing things that create value.”

As a clinical assistant professor of anesthesiology, Sutton is one of two School of Medicine faculty who received the new award, which was also presented to Adam Weinstein, MD, associate professor of medical sciences and pediatrics.

Affiliated with Hartford Hospital, Sutton is a partner with Integrated Anesthesia Associates of Hartford, where he serves as chair of the practice’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee. Additionally, Sutton serves on the DEI Committee of the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists, and on the Committee on Professional Diversity of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

As a member of the executive board for the Connecticut State Society of Anesthesiologists, Sutton is working to bridge a connection between the society and School of Medicine anesthesia interest group students.

“I think growing these relationships and networks are wonderful opportunities we have as physicians in the community to help support medical students who are interested in our field and are going to be the future of our profession,” said Sutton.

Sutton’s interest in health equity research, which looks at healthcare disparities between populations, has made a direct teaching impact on Ervin Ham, MD ’25. Two years ago, Ham sent an inquiry to Sutton about the potential for a summer research fellowship. As a college student in Seattle, Washington, Ham had worked with an HIV clinic and with underserved and marginalized populations.

Sutton said Ham impressed him as a student who was interested in how to serve and create opportunities for people to advance their lives and advance their health.

“He was also interested in anesthesia and how he might approach questions that he had in his broader life relating to how to address disparities in education, work or health care opportunities,” said Sutton.

“Ervin, and many of the Quinnipiac students I’ve spoken with subsequently, are interested in understanding how to create a career pathway where they can authentically develop their passions," he said. "And that, for me, was a very important understanding that I wanted to develop.”

Under Sutton’s mentorship, Ham’s fellowship work has extended to developing his capstone project, “Improving Utilization of Cardiovascular Procedures by African American and Hispanic Populations at Hartford Healthcare: A Health Equity Initiative at The Hartford Hospital Community Health Center.”

For the two-year project, now at the halfway point of data collection, the research team received a Hartford HealthCare Health Equity Grant and a national grant from the American Society of Anesthesia Professional Diversity Committee. Sutton said it’s his hope that Ham’s experience will include joining him next year to present a poster and a manuscript at the society’s national meeting.

Sutton has been called upon to give talks about his emerging work in DEI research related to his field, including a lecture at the annual meeting of the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists in May. He also presented a poster at the meeting entitled, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Bystander Treatment and Outcomes for Witnessed Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest in Connecticut.”

In addition to health equity, Sutton is interested in promoting leadership in anesthesia.

“One of the challenges for anesthesia, from a leadership domain, is that our profession recognizes that we create value not just by taking care of patients in the operating room, but by how we collaborate across disciplines, with other specialties, and the work that we do intellectually and in other ways outside of the operating room,” said Sutton.

Beyond understanding how to improve outcomes and reduce costs, it’s important for medicine today to understand population health and how the entire population is served, he said. That can be done by viewing patients holistically, in partnerships with surgeons, primary care physicians, hospital systems and academic medical centers in which all are engaged and incentivized to take on the responsibility of population health.

“The best way to serve the entire population is not only understanding where there are opportunities to improve based upon average statistics for the entire population but understanding that within the entire population, there are sub-populations that may not be doing as well as others," said Sutton. "If we can lift those populations up so they can do as well as the best groups that tend to have access to care and receive care then that is an important way to drive the overall population statistics to a higher level."

Sutton is proud to be a partner at a practice that recognizes the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as integral to quality improvement, community engagement, research, education and leadership in medicine. He feels the future of the profession requires developing competencies in leadership that support the ability to meet the needs of clients and create value in the healthcare system by addressing population health concerns and the communities they serve.

“From a business standpoint, leadership standpoint and from a standpoint of the future of what we’re compelled to do as professionals, we have to understand how to look at quality improvement, with filters that bring attention to healthcare disparities that are mutable, that are preventable and alterable," he said. "Because that is part of the value chain proposition that all engaged constituents are obliged to address, in terms of healthcare delivery models and healthcare patient models today."

In terms of diversity challenges in medicine and anesthesia, there are many ways to look at underrepresented groups in medicine, said Sutton.

“One of the things I’ve started to develop and talk about are historical approaches in medicine and anesthesia to defining leaders and looking at how to address what we call the leaky pipeline," he said. "We put emphasis on early STEM learning and on the basic science aspects of these fields; but it may be there’s a need for leadership that doesn’t necessarily require that focus as scholarship, that relates to the core of business as a healthcare professional today. Broadening the areas of scholarship to include these opportunities and have them be recognized and supported in applications where people can get professional advancements is also an important approach to expanding diversity in terms of representation."

It’s equally important to address the valid concern of underrepresentation in medicine, said Sutton. The benefits of patient-centered, culturally sensitive healthcare are supported by studies.

“This whole concept does include a recognition that diversity, in terms of identity amongst health care professionals, does contribute to improved outcomes, compliance and engagement from patients,” said Sutton.

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now