Posted By Administration,
Thursday, April 18, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 18, 2019
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On Tuesday April 9, 2019, Texas Tech University Health Center Sciences Center came to an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to cease using race or national origin as one of the many factors involved in their admission process. As organizations who support, encourage, and uplift students who are underrepresented minorities, we are concerned with the outcome of future admissions cycles for underrepresented minority applicants going forward and fear this decision could have damaging effects on the health of communities of color. Previous literature has estimated that programs that banned race-conscious admissions led to a 17% decline of underrepresented students of color enrolling in medical school at public institutions in those states, underlining the consequences that the Texas Tech decision and similar policies will have on the diversity of future in-coming medical school classes and the health of their surrounding communities.1
Diversity is important not only for the medical community but for the ever-changing patient population these future physicians will be treating. The US. Census has predicted that by 2020 more than half of all youth under the age of 18 will be part of a racial or ethnic minority, and by 2060 the minority population in the United States will be 56% of the entire population.2 This majority of people of color will become the majority of our nation’s working age population, voting basis, consumers and tax base. Our medical provider workforce should reflect this changing landscape, yet we are still behind these numbers: in 2018-2019, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) reported that 8,014 accepted medical students reported being a racial or ethnic minority compared to 11,198 white accepted medical students.3 It is important that future physicians both identify with these racial/ethnic minorities and have some experience in caring for these changing populations, which can best be achieved by diverse medical school classes.
There are many reasons to actively recruit a diverse physician workforce. Minority physicians are more likely to treat minority and underserved patient populations, and affirmative action in medical school admissions has been shown to increase medical practice in these areas. 4-8 Medical students find that training at diverse medical schools made them more comfortable treating a diverse patient population and increased their concern for health equity and access to care for underserved populations.9 Previous literature has found that the majority of medical students support using race as a factor in the admissions process. Furthermore, patients report greater satisfaction with healthcare when they see a physician with the same racial background, emphasizing the need for a diverse physician workforce that reflects our diverse communities.10
Race conscious admissions that strive to increase diversity in medical schools are supported by the American Medical Association. In November 2018, American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates’ approved the amendment to Strategies for Enhancing Diversity in the Physician Workforce (D-200.985) which affirms the AMA will oppose legislation that would undermine institutions’ ability to properly employ affirmative action to promote a diverse student population. The AMA has previously supported creating a diverse medical student population, noting that “racial diversity is a vital component of a successful medical education and that medical school admission officers should be allowed to consider applicants’ race in order to achieve the school’s educational goals.” 11The vice chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, mentions the university "strongly believes that diversity in academic medicine is not only a necessity at [the medical school] but is a necessity nationally as well.12 By pressuring medical schools to eliminate race or national origin from their admission process, the U.S. Department of Education jeopardizes medical schools’ ability to reach their educational goals.
At a time where physician shortages are becoming a pivotal concern, we should make sure our matriculants into medical school are being exposed to a diverse medical school class. This diversity will not only enhance their medical education but will prepare them for our changing nation that is in need of well-rounded physicians.
American Medical Student Association (AMSA)
Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association (APAMSA)
Student National Medical Association (SNMA)
Latino Medical Student Association (LMSA)
- Garces, L. M. & Mickey-Pabello, D. Racial Diversity in the Medical Profession: The Impact of Affirmative Action Bans on Underrepresented Student of Color Matriculation in Medical Schools. The Journal of higher education 86, 264 (2015).
- William H. Frey analysis of U.S. Census Population projections, 2018
- Association of American Medical Colleges Table A-14.2: Race/Ethnicity Responses (Alone and In Combination) of Acceptees to U.S. Medical Schools, 2014-2015 through 2018-2019
- Kington, R, Tisnado, D, Carlisle, DM. Increasing racial and ethnic diversity among physicians: an intervention to address health disparities? The Right Thing To Do, The Smart Thing To Do: Enhancing Diversity in the Health Professions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2001:57-90.
- Walker, KO, Moreno, G, Grumbach, K. The Association Among Specialty, Race, Ethnicity, and Practice Location Among California Physicians in Diverse Specialties. J Natl Med Assoc. 2012;104(0):46–52.
- Marrast, LM, Zallman, L, Woolhandler, S. et al. Minority Physicians’ Role in the Care of Underserved Patients: Diversifying the Physician Workforce May Be Key in Addressing Health Disparities. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):289-291.
- Smedley, B. D., Stith, A. Y., Colburn, L., Evans, C. H. & Medicine (US), I. of. Increasing Racial and Ethnic Diversity Among Physicians: An Intervention to Address Health Disparities? (National Academies Press (US), 2001).
- Lakhan SE. Diversification of U.S. medical schools via affirmative action implementation. BMC Medical Education. 2003;3(1).
- Whitla, D. K. et al. Educational benefits of diversity in medical school: a survey of students. Acad Med 78, 460–466 (2003).
- Cooper-Patrick, L. et al. Race, Gender, and Partnership in the Patient-Physician Relationship. JAMA 282, 583–589 (1999).
- American Medical Association , Strategies for Enhancing Diversity in the Physician Workforce D-200.985
- Jaschik,S OCR Tells Med School to Stop Considering Race in Admissions, Inside Higher ED, April 2019 https://www.insidehighered.com/admissions/article/2019/04/15/texas-tech-medical-school-under-pressure-education-department-will