The healthcare industry has long suffered from inadequate minority representation among its ranks and yet, even as the ethnic diversity of the U.S. continues to grow, this deficiency continues to be a problem. In fact, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States will soon face a healthcare crisis on two fronts: an overall shortage of physicians, and an even greater lack of physicians from culturally and ethnically diverse backgrounds. With this in mind, the AAMC is campaigning to increase the number of minority students completing their medical school requirements and applying to medical school.
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
There are more minority students than ever graduating with bachelor's degrees in biology -- the most common undergraduate degree for pre-med students. However, in spite of this increase, minority medical school admissions have not grown, and the percentage of minority students completing medical school requirements and applying to medical school has remained the same. Medical schools, along with most colleges and universities, are committed to building diversity in their student populations, but many racial and ethnic populations are underrepresented to their numbers in the general population.
Why Minority Representation is Important
An ethnically and culturally diverse nation means changing healthcare needs, and an increased need for ethnic diversity in medical schools and within the physician ranks. Healthcare providers who reflect the diversity of our population are more likely to be culturally competent physicians. According to the AAMC, success in increasing the number of minority med school students and future physicians has three main benefits:
- Improved Access: Minority physicians are more likely to treat minority and indigent patients and to work in underserved areas.
- Increased Patient Satisfaction: Minority patients are more likely to choose minority physicians and are better able to relate to them. Trust and respect levels for both the patient and the physician are better.
- Culturally Competent Care: Increased minority representation in medical school and in the physician workforce creates an atmosphere for all doctors to become more culturally competent in their practice of medicine, and to provide the best care to a diverse population. Assumptions and perceptions of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences can be challenged by a diverse student peer group.
Get Your Name On the List
One mean by which medical colleges identify minority and other underrepresented populations is through the use of the Med-MAR, or Medical Minority Applicant Registry. It's not a way to increase your chances of being accepted into medical school, but it will help identify you to medical schools who are actively seeking a diverse applicant pool. By registering, this enables these schools to send information to you directly and to encourage you to apply. Just be sure to complete your requirements for medical school, and be ready for medical school admission.
To register, you need only be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident visa holder who self-identifies as a member of a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in medicine and/or as economically disadvantaged. Once you've registered, the Registry will keep the following information on file: your name, date of birth, Social Security number, state of legal residence, racial/ethnic self-description, undergraduate college, major, and MCAT scores. If you're unsure of which schools you want to attend, this may help you decide on where to apply for medical school admissions, particularly if you know which schools are actively seeking to recruit minority students. You'll also be able to focus on specific schools and their medical school admission requirements.