Move to increase minorities in medicine focuses on undergrads

The Assn. for American Medical Colleges is launching its awareness campaign at four schools.

By Myrle Croasdale — Posted Dec. 18, 2006

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More minorities are graduating with biology degrees, the most common pre-med major. But the graduates are not applying to medical school, according to the Assn. of American Medical Colleges.

To try to reverse this trend, the AAMC is rolling out a two-year marketing campaign to raise awareness among minority college students about medical careers.

With a budget of $1 million for the first year, the AAMC this fall launched a Web site (link) that contains resources for students considering medical school and an online forum where they can ask advice of experts. The AAMC also developed a series of ads and started campus pilot projects at the University of Arizona in Tucson and the University of Pittsburgh.

The pilot campaigns will include AAMC ads in campus newsletters and on-campus Web sites promoting and minorities in medicine. The AAMC also will participate in campus events such as career fairs and speakers series.

The campaign aims to answer common concerns minority students have about medical school, such as how to apply, do well on the Medical College Admissions Test and pay tuition. It also seeks to inspire students with personal stories from minority doctors.

Two other pilots are being planned at California State University at Fresno and all three campuses of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

The need for a more racially and ethnically diverse physician work force is urgent, said AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch, MD. The nation's population is growing more diverse, yet the physician work force is not keeping pace. At the same time, an impending physician shortage without a more diverse work force could increase racial and ethnic health care disparities.

"We believe this is one of the more pressing health care challenges we face as a nation," Dr. Kirch said.

According to the AAMC, African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans make up 25% of the nation's population, but only 12% of medical school graduates and 6% of practicing physicians.

However, the AAMC discovered there is a pool of potential applicants that could improve those numbers.

An AAMC analysis found that between 1993 and 2003, more than half of medical school applicants were biology majors. From 1993 to 2003, the number of black, Hispanic and Native American biology majors rose 88%. But only 41%of those majors are applying to medical school now, compared with 78% in 1993.

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Getting bio majors into med school

[download pdf]

Although most medical school applicants are biology majors, most bio majors do not go on to med school. A breakdown from schools that offer undergraduate through doctorate programs highlights this fact.

Source: Assn. of American Medical Colleges

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