Despite calls for more diversity among doctors in the United States, a new study shows that minorities remain underrepresented in medical schools.
Researchers found that between 2002 and 2017, the actual number of minority students in medical schools increased, but the rate of increase was slower than that of age-matched members of those minorities in the U.S. population.
By 2017, Hispanic medical school enrollees were underrepresented by nearly 70%, and the rates of under-representation were 60% for black males and 40% for black females.
“Recent studies have shown a steady increase in the enrollment of nonwhite medical students over the past decade. While those numbers are promising, they don’t tell the full story,” said co-senior author Dr. Jaya Aysola, assistant dean of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity at the University of Pennsylvania and executive director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Equity Advancement.
“We still have a long way to go before our physician workforce mirrors the population of patients who they serve,” Aysola added in a university news release.
There’s been a decade-long effort to increase diversity in U.S. medicine so that it better reflects the patient population, Aysola noted.
The study was published Sept. 4 in the journal JAMA Network Open.
“Past research has shown that the medical workforce has indeed become more diverse, but it doesn’t account for how much the country is diversifying as a whole,” said study lead author Lanair Amaad Lett, an associate fellow at Penn’s Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics.
“The efforts to increase diversity in medical education have clearly not been sufficient,” Lett said in the release. “In light of the evidence that physicians from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to serve populations with significant health disparities, and that a diverse physician workforce improves health care for all, the need for representation is an evidence-based imperative.”
The Association of American Medical Colleges has more on minorities in medicine.