HONOLULU - The American Medical Association will urge medical schools and physician training programs to remove discriminatory questioning regarding American Indian and Alaska Native blood quantum from the medical education application process, according to new policy adopted today by the nation’s physicians and medical students at the Interim Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates. 

The mathematical blood quantum—the amount of “native blood” in a person’s ancestry—was implemented by the federal government requiring the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to issue a Certificate Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) as evidence of Native American ancestry. Blood quantum has been a topic of controversy as a relic of government policy that continues to marginalize these populations.

“Questioning American Indian and Alaskan Natives about their blood quantum is a barrier for applicants pursuing medical education, further exacerbating the shortage of American Indian medical trainees,” says AMA Board Member, Madelyn E. Butler, M.D. “Our AMA supports the creation of culturally safe interview environments to reduce racial biases and advocates for the inclusion of American Indians and Alaskan Natives in established medical training programs.”

In the two years, the AMA House of Delegates has adopted numerous policies that explicitly acknowledge racism’s role in perpetuating health inequities and inciting harm against historically marginalized communities. These AMA policies include acknowledging racism as a public health threat, removing race as a proxy for biology and eliminating racial essentialism in medicine.

Through research, collaborations, advocacy, and leadership, the AMA is working to advance a strategic plan to drive racial justice and health equity to achieve optimal health for all.

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