JAMA Viewpoint Underscores Disproportionate Number of Black Men and Women in Medicine

"The disproportionate effect of the novel coronavirus on African Americans and communities of color has shone a new light on the more than century-old struggle to increase the number of Black physicians in the U.S.," writes Valerie Montgomery Rice, MD, in a viewpoint published Jan. 5 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

According to Montgomery Rice, president and dean of Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia, "the U.S. has failed to adequately increase the number of Black physicians since the turn of the 20th century," with total Black enrollment in U.S. medical schools hovering around 7% since 2013.

Among the barriers to medical school enrollment for underrepresented minorities is the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). According to Montgomery Rice, "the MCAT score has not been shown to significantly predict whether students will successfully progress in their medical education," yet has an adverse influence on Black applicants. She writes: "More medical schools should focus less on their rankings, such as in the U.S. News and World Report, and should more intentionally embrace their stated missions of diversity and inclusion, using MCAT scores as only one determinant in the selection process, and admitting more of these students. This approach could potentially lead to 3,000 more Black physicians either practicing or in the training pipeline in the U.S. today."

In a related editorial, Clyde W. Yancy, MD, MACC, and Howard Bauchner, MD, call for a bold new model to fully address diversity in medicine that includes establishing a new medical school at a historically Black college and university. "This new medical school concept provides a needed near-term solution that definitely enhances capacity and, when added to the ongoing commitment to increase diversity in existing medical schools, amounts to real change," they write. They note the challenge will be summoning the will do it, but stress that the current system as configured will continue to fail with a "significant increase in capacity and a bold and different approach."

Keywords: Schools, Medical, African Americans, College Admission Test, Universities, Coronavirus, American Medical Association, Education, Medical, Students, Minority Groups, Medicine, Physicians

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