Not Just Counting Heads: A Q&A with Jorge E. Novo, MD

By Jorge E. Novo - October 06, 2022


For Jorge E. Novo, MD, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Surgical Pathology Rotation Director at Northwestern Medicine, his Mexican heritage means three key things: pride, obligation, and duty. Pride of his rich Mexican culture, language, ethnic heritage and tradition. An obligation to his community as he furthers his career in medicine. Duty to elevate himself and others and be the mentor he longed for in his own medical training. Here, Dr. Novo shares his insight on diversity in the laboratory and how the laboratory can be a partner in addressing inequities.

Why is diversity in leadership critical to the success of a laboratory?
Diversity is not just counting heads but making sure those heads are counted when decisions are being made. Like a gene pool, diversity strengthens the fabric of the laboratory, novel and creative solutions are more common, and weaknesses are mitigated. A homogeneous leadership is not going to be able to creatively overcome the rapidly evolving sociopolitical landscape.

How can the health professionals widen their understanding about Hispanic and Latinx communities?
Recognize your own unconscious bias and strike up a conversation. While numerous sources will say that we need to read up on Latin culture, I believe there's no better way than just showing curiosity and having a conversation with a community member you don't identify with. It's also important to keep in mind that Latin American and Hispanic cultures are very diverse and are not a homogeneous entity.

What are some of the systemic healthcare challenges that affect Hispanic and Latinx people, and what role can the laboratory play in addressing them?
Visibility, accessibility, and opportunity. Laboratories must take active, actionable decisions to increase the Latinx/Hispanic workforce, with special emphasis in the communities they serve. It begins with exposure to science and mathematics at an early age, mentorship and career guidance during the school years, and actively recruiting them for training.

If you could give one or two pieces of advice to your younger colleagues, what would you say?
Todo se puede. Be persistent and tenacious until you achieve your goals. You're an unstoppable force.


Read more Q&As with Hispanic and Latinx leaders in the laboratory here

Jorge E. Novo

Assistant Professor of Pathology