Medical schools failing to increase representation of minority groups

Residency Program Insider, October 4, 2019

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Despite a decade-long effort to racially and ethnically diversify medical school graduates to reflect the diversity of the general population, underrepresentation of minority groups in medical schools remains problematic, new research shows.

Researchers examined data from 2002 to 2017. The primary metric was representation quotient (RQ), which is a ratio that shows the proportion of a particular subgroup among the total population of medical school applicants or enrollees relative to the proportion of that subgroup in the U.S. population. An RQ greater than 1 indicates overrepresentation. An RQ less than 1 indicates underrepresentation.

The researchers generated several key data points:

  • The main finding is that the overall numbers and proportions of black, Hispanic, and American Indian or Alaska Native medical school enrollees increased from 2002 to 2017, but the increases did not keep pace with increases of these minorities in the general population.
  • For minority medical school applicants from 2013 to 2017, Hispanic female applicants were the only minority group that showed a statistically significant increase in representation, with RQ rising from 0.29 to 0.34. For the same time period, the RQ for Hispanic male applicants was relatively constant at 0.28.
  • For medical school enrollees from 2012 to 2017, there were no significant RQ increases or decreases for any racial or ethnic group. For example, the RQ for male and female Hispanic graduates was relatively constant at about 0.30.

Editor’s note: This is an edited excerpt from an article by Chris Cheney published by Healthleaders.

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