Sincere, Tenacious, Optimistic, Energetic, and Creative

These are the words that Artina Dawkins, PhD, MPA, C-TAGME, program manager for the Orthopaedic Department’s residency program and co-director of Diversity and Inclusion for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, uses to describe herself. Her primary responsibilities are to provide oversight for four education programs in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery – the orthopaedic surgery and podiatry residency programs and the hand and sports fellowship programs.

Artina Dawkins - Wake Forest School of Medicine In Thier Own Words

In addition to her daily routine, she is the founder and director of the Kennedy-Hopkins Scholars Mentor Program and an affiliate faculty member of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. She is also the president-elect of the Association of Residency Coordinators in Orthopaedic Surgery, a national professional organization for program coordinators of orthopaedic surgery residencies and fellowships.

With a mind for administrative leadership and the heart for helping others, Dawkins is making a significant impact at work and in the larger health care community. Get to know her in her own words.

What inspires or motivates you?

I am motivated by a desire to make a positive impact, whether this means a positive impact on the people around me or on my environment. I want to create a legacy for those coming behind me. I am also motivated by those who share the same ideals as I do. I strongly believe that one person has the ability to change the lives of those around them. This impact is greater when you collaborate with like-minded people who are willing to work to make change happen. I am inspired by the stories of people who overcome obstacles and barriers to reach their goals.

Tell us about your background. What’s your experience and how did you get into the field?

I earned a B.S. in Biology from Wake Forest University, a Master of Public Administration degree from High Point University, and a PhD in Leadership Studies from NC Agricultural & Technical State University (N.C. A&T). I have nine years of progressive leadership experience in graduate medical education (GME) and ten years of experience working in the racial equity space at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. My work in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) began as committee member of the Diversity Celebrations Committee, an institutional committee tasked with planning the celebrations of cultural events, such as the annual program that we held in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In the local community, I served as a big sister with Big Brothers Big Sisters, served on the advisory board of the Black Philanthropy Initiative, and was a member of the 2020 class of Leadership Winston-Salem.

After recognizing that I had an aptitude for administration, I pursued a Master of Public Administration degree in nonprofit organizations. This Master’s journey initiated my ascent into GME administration as a residency program assistant then as a residency program coordinator.

What made you want to get into education?

As a residency coordinator and now as program manager, I have applied years of leadership experience, collaboration, strategic planning, research, and a focus on learner success into my current roles. Earning a doctoral degree in Leadership Studies from N.C. A&T was a milestone in my career. On the journey to completing my doctoral program, I had the opportunity to fuse my passion for mentorship and racial equity into the founding of the Kennedy-Hopkins Scholars Mentor Program. As far as the question of what led me to the field of healthcare education, as the old saying goes, it found me!

What do you do at work on a daily basis?

No workday is ever the same! I have often arrived at my office with one set of goals to reach on a given day, only to have unexpected circumstances dictate a re-prioritization of those goals. My responsibilities on a given day or week could entail a myriad of tasks, ranging from preparation for an upcoming educational event, leading a meeting, deciding on curricula, matching a mentor with a mentee, preparing a PowerPoint presentation, or responding to a myriad of emails.

Over the past eight years, since the launch of the ACGME’s (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) “Next Accreditation System,” the accreditation requirements and subsequent accountability for program directors and program coordinators has become more stringent and ever changing. While the program director has the authority and accountability for the overall residency or fellowship program, a significant amount of these responsibilities are delegated to the program coordinator. My oversight consists of leading my team, onboarding and training new team members, collaboration with team members, operating as a backup in the day-to-day management for the aforementioned education programs, and many additional responsibilities.

As co-director of diversity and inclusion in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, I lead our department in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategic initiatives. Our strategic plan includes processes to advance DEI at each level of the department. A typical day in this role may include collaborating with stakeholders inside or outside of the institution, conducting an Active Bystander Training session, data collection, or participating in a career fair.

As a researcher, especially since earning a doctorate in Leadership Studies from N.C. A&T in 2018, I appreciate a data-driven approach to addressing areas of interest or concern. I am involved in several team research projects across the institution, including studies on structured mentorship programs in GME, diversity in GME, and women in leadership. As an affiliate faculty of the Maya Angelou Center for Health Equity, I have utilized their resources on health disparities research and served as a student mentor.

How can students and residents find mentors?

As the founder and director of the Kennedy-Hopkins Scholars Mentor Program, I had the pleasure of conflating my passions for mentorship, leadership, and racial equity into a program designed to support minoritized trainees at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Through the mentor program, the Kennedy-Hopkins administrative team and I match the residents and fellows with a mentor, design the curriculum for our quarterly lecture series, and facilitate community engagement opportunities for those who participate in the program. Through the program, we aim to demonstrate our value of our young clinicians as they matriculate through their respective training programs. Black/African American, Hispanic/Latinx, or Native American/American Indian residents who would like to be matched with a mentor may complete the mentee data sheet on the program page.

All Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist students interested in finding a mentor can visit the Mentoring the Pipeline student group. Students interested in a list of additional opportunities may visit the Research and Extracurricular Activities page.

What makes opportunities at Wake unique?

I have encountered countless opportunities to grow professionally and personally. I have been able to incorporate my values, creativity, and vision into my work and work output. The existence of the Kennedy-Hopkins Scholars Mentor Program is an example of how – through collaboration and research – I was able to develop a program in an area of passion.

What skills should someone pursuing a career in healthcare have?

From the vantage point of attaining a career in healthcare administration, it takes tenacity, persistence, adaptability, integrity, people skills, and organizational skills – to name a few. Administrators are often the intermediary between various groups within and outside of our organization. These skills will help to create a foundation to move someone toward a career in healthcare administration. Good administrators are ok with, at times, performing a task or assuming responsibility for something that may be outside of their job description and doing that task well! A good administrator can make a mistake, learn from it, and move past it.

What advice do you have for future students?

Be respectful. The fruit of respect yields tangible and intangible benefits. I believe that every professional or anyone who intends to master their craft, must sit at the knee of someone who knows more than they do – professionally or personally. You never know who has the key to the door of your future; being respectful helps to unlock this door for you.

What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of work?

I serve as a member of my church choir. My faith is extremely important to me. I was raised in a home where faith in God and a commitment to serve was emphasized – two tenets that guide my professional and professional life. When I am not busily typing away at my desk, or spending time with family and friends, I enjoy the camaraderie and fellowship of Mixxed Fit exercise classes, a fitness program that involves body-strengthening exercise combined with dance moves.