This Month's News
Supreme Court decision may put physician diversity at risk
The outcome of a case being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this month could hamper efforts to increase the diversity of the physician work force.
Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin involves a white applicant to the school's undergraduate program who is "challenging the constitutionality of using race in admission decisions," reported American Medical News.
Medical organizations, including the AMA and the Association of American Medical Colleges, have voiced concern in an amicus brief that a ruling for the plaintiff would "fracture long-standing admission policies that consider race and ethnicity as factors," noted the American Medical News article. This, in turn, would lower the overall number of physicians from under-represented minority groups and, ultimately, undermine efforts to increase access to care to underserved populations.
As the amicus brief notes, "Medical schools have learned over many decades of experience that these goals cannot be accomplished unless physicians are educated in environments that reflect the ever-increasing diversity of the society they serve. As a result, access to medical education has never been determined solely by metrics such as test scores and grades. Rather, admission has historically been based on a holistic evaluation process—including personal interviews of applicants—in which an applicant's background is taken into account along with myriad other factors."
The AMA, through the Commission to End Health Care Disparities and the AMA Minority Affairs Section, will continue to monitor this case and highlight its potential impact on health care disparities and the diversity of the physician workforce.