Medical School Diversity

Why med schools hold the key to diversity and justice in medicine


Diversity and inclusion strategies are pervasive in medical education, and they deserve special scrutiny because of their effects on the future of the physician workforce. But they’re not just the domain of admissions officers and other medical school administrators. Policymakers and even jurists play crucial roles in deciding who gets into medical school and, therefore, which communities come to be served equitably by the health care system.

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The December issue of AMA Journal of Ethics® (@JournalofEthics) explores health justice and diversity in medical school admissions. It explains how common ground can be found when disagreements arise over which kinds of diversity should matter most and how applicants’ memberships in minoritized groups should be regarded in the admissions process.

Articles include:

  1. "How Should Medical School Admissions Drive Health Care Workforce Diversity?"

    1. From clinical, ethical and public health standpoints, diversification is foundational to just responses to the health needs of a pluralistic nation.
  2. "Three Things Schools Should Do to Make Advancement Assessment Just."

    1. Retention, student progression and career advancement milestones are at least as important as admissions in promoting just medical education opportunity.
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  3. "How Has American Constitutional Law Influenced Medical School Admissions and Thwarted Health Justice?"

    1. The U.S. Supreme Court has allowed race-conscious admissions when a school’s purpose is to diversify an incoming class but not to remediate inequity.
  4. "Why Disability Must Be Included in Medical School Diversification Efforts."

    1. Ableism in admissions processes and expectations set by technical standards can undermine equity in medical school admissions.

In the journal’s December "Ethics Talk" podcast, Jewel Mullen, MD, MPH, associate dean for health equity at the University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School, and David Henderson, MD, associate dean of the Office of Multicultural and Community Affairs at UConn Health, in Farmington, Connecticut, break down myths of merit-based admissions and explore how we should pursue diversity and inclusion as key educational and professional priorities in medicine.

The December issue also features nine author-interview podcasts. Listen to previous episodes of the “Ethics Talk” podcast or subscribe in iTunes or other services.

These AMA Journal of Ethics CME modules are each designated by the AMA for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™:

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Additionally, the CME module “Ethics Talk: Myths of “Merit-Based” Admissions” is designated by the AMA for a maximum of 0.75 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

The offerings are part of the AMA Ed Hub™️, an online learning platform that brings together high-quality CME, maintenance of certification, and educational content from trusted sources, all in one place—with activities relevant to you, automated credit tracking and reporting for some states and specialty boards. 

Learn more about AMA CME accreditation.

The journal’s editorial focus is on commentaries and articles that offer practical advice and insights for medical students and physicians. Submit a manuscript for publication. The journal also invites original photographs, graphics, cartoons, drawings and paintings that explore the ethical dimensions of health or health care.

Upcoming issues of the AMA Journal of Ethics will focus on disparities along the medical-dental divide, tactical health and law enforcement, and moving toward abolition medicine. Sign up to receive email alerts when new issues are published.