Medical schools across the United States are seeing spikes in first-year Black students, according to WGBH.
“We have never seen such an increase within a short amount of time,” Norma Poll-Hunter, Leader of the workforce diversity efforts at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), said.
A report from the news outlet says the number of first-year Black medical school students jumped 21%, an “unprecedented spike in 2020.”
Poll-Hunter suggested Black patients are likely to convey satisfaction with their care when their physicians look like them.
“When Black physicians, male physicians are working with Black male patients, we see better outcomes in preventative care or on cardiac care,” Poll-Hunter said. “We’ve also seen that in terms of infant mortality, as well.”
While it’s promising to see more Black people set on entering the medical field and attending medical schools, according to the association’s latest data, released in 2019, only 5% of the country’s doctors are Black.
George Floyd’s death, nationwide protests, and other racial issues have “really called into question this idea of a post-racial society,” Poll-Hunter says.
To address health disparities afflicting Black people, more medical schools are looking beyond test scores, waiving application fees, allowing more students to interview remotely and looking more seriously at the role of unconscious bias in their admissions procedures.
Tufts Medical School is one of the institutions making sweeping changes to diversify their student population.
“We’ve been working hard at this,” Joyce Sackey says, Tufts’ dean for multicultural affairs and global health. “Medical schools are like the Titanic. It’s very difficult to move policies and processes, to be honest. But we are a medical school that has declared that we want to work towards becoming an anti-racist institution.”