Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Affirmative Action Endorsed;
First Results Apparent

Although the University of Michigan affirmative action cases seemed to take forever to get through the courts, once the decisions were announced, the University acted quickly.  Oddly, disappointingly, the traditional news media seem to have lost interest.  So here's a follow-up:
Minority enrollment up at University of Michigan Medical School
A U.S. Supreme Court decision on affirmative action and focused recruiting efforts are credited.

By Myrle Croasdale

AMNews staff. Feb. 28, 2005. Enrollment of underrepresented minorities at the University of Michigan Medical School has jumped from 12% in 2003 to 21% in 2004. That's a direct result, some suggest, of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of race as one of several criteria for admissions at the University of Michigan's law school.

Nationally, minorities considered underrepresented, such as blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and mainland Puerto Ricans, saw only a small uptick in representation. According to data gleaned from the Assn. of American Medical Colleges and calculated by AMNews, enrollment of such students was 9.3% in 2002 and 2003, creeping to 9.8% in 2004. [...]
American Medical Association policy supports the need to enhance the presence of underrepresented minorities in medical school and the physician work force, as a means to ultimately improve care and access for underserved minorities. The AMA also has led and participated in various programs to encourage minorities to go to medical school. [...]
That didn't take long.  The decision came down in 2003.  In the 2004 class, minority enrollment is finally approaching that which is seen in the general population.  By 2100, though, 60% of the US population will be one minority or another.  This means that the job is not done.

Why should we care about the composition of the medical school class?  The CDC informs us:
Though health indicators such as life expectancy and infant mortality have improved for most Americans, minorities experience a disproportionate burden of preventable disease, death, and disability compared with non-minorities. These trends compel the public health community to examine issues of health disparity among the various racial and ethnic groups that comprise the country's population.
Although we might like to think that the ethnicity of the MD population would have no effect on the differential health status of minorities, the unfortunate fact is that it does.  Increasing the number of minority physicians almost certainly will help correct the disparity in health care seen by minorities.