The Association of American Medical Colleges says improving diversity is critical to training doctors and improving public health.
As some states are passing legislation aimed at weakening diversity efforts in higher education, the Association of American Medical Colleges says improving diversity is critical in training tomorrow’s doctors.
The AAMC sent out an open letter to medical colleges around the country stressing the importance of bolstering diversity, equity and inclusion in medical education. The organization also characterizes it as a priority for public health.
“Throughout the country, we continue to be challenged with misinformation, disinformation, and misguided anti-diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) actions that are confronting higher education and our academic medical institutions and that will harm the health of our communities,” the AAMC’s letter states.
David J. Skorton, the president and CEO of AAMC, and David A. Acosta, the AAMC’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, penned the letter.
“Your important work prepares tomorrow’s doctors and other health care professionals to be culturally responsive and consciously aware of the health care needs of society, including those who live in historically marginalized and under resourced communities,” they wrote.
“This is all critical to achieving health equity for every community in the nation. We cannot afford to lose the progress we have made with our DEI initiatives nor the momentum to make further changes needed to achieve our vision of creating a healthier future for everyone.”
Earlier this month, Florida. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation that prohibits Florida colleges and universities from using state or federal aid for diversity programs.
DeSantis, who is expected to announce Wednesday that he is running for president, likened diversity efforts to promoting orthodoxy and chided DEI efforts as “standing for ‘discrimination, exclusion and indoctrination,’” NBC News reported.
Florida isn’t the only state looking to change higher education policies on diversity. At least a dozen states have introduced legislation aimed at diversity, equity and inclusion policies in colleges and universities, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
Many health advocates have stressed the importance of diversity in medical schools, noting the small number of doctors from under-represented groups. Only 6.9% of doctors identified as Hispanic, while 5.7% identified as Black or African American, according to the AAMC’s data.
“We know that more diversity in the physician workforce builds trust and enhances the physician-patient relationship, translating into better health outcomes,” Skorton said in December 2022. “The AAMC and our member medical schools are committed to increasing the number of both applicants and matriculants from historically underrepresented groups.”
More women and more members of minority groups have been entering medical schools, according to the AAMC’s data. Women account for more than half of all medical school students, and more Black, Hispanic and Asian students are enrolling.
Medical colleges are waiting to see if the Supreme Court will issue a decision that could limit the consideration of race in admissions.
Last fall, the conservative justices, who hold the court’s majority, demonstrated skepticism of affirmative actions in two cases challenging the use of race in admissions at the University of North Carolina and Harvard College.
Medical schools, which are aiming to boost diversity in their enrollment, have argued against upending the court’s previous rulings in favor of utilizing race as one factor in admission decisions.
The AAMC and more than 40 other healthcare organizations, including the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians, filed an amicus brief urging the court to allow medical schools to continue using race as a consideration in admissions.