AAMC Launches New Campaign To Increase Medical School Diversity
The Association of American Medical Colleges has launched a new marketing campaign to encourage an untapped pool of minority undergraduate biology majors to consider a career in medicine.
The association, which represents 125 accredited U.S. medical schools and nearly 400 major teaching hospitals, has launched a Web site, www.AspiringDocs.org, which offers prospective doctors information on preparing for the medical school entrance exam, the MCAT, and paying for medical school. The site also features an online community, designed to be a support network for minorities. In addition to the Web site, the association has advertising featuring minority doctors sharing their success stories.
“We must change the face of medicine to reflect our nation’s growing diversity,” says AAMC President Darrell G. Kirch. “The AAMC hopes this new campaign will encourage more minority students to follow their dreams of becoming doctors so that we can improve access to quality care and ultimately eliminate health care disparities.”
Statistics show an increase in the number of Black, Hispanic and American Indian undergraduates studying biology, which is the most common field of study in preparation for medical training. However, there has been no significant change in the number of minority biology majors applying to medical school in more than a decade.
Between 1993 and 2004, the most recent data available, the proportion of Black biology majors who applied to medical school decreased from 83 percent to 44 percent; Hispanic biology majors who applied to medical school decreased from 75 percent to 39 percent, and American Indians dropped from 73 percent to 45 percent.
AAMC attempted to determine the factors that may hamper students from pursuing medical school. Focus group interviews and statistical research show students are concerned about a range of issues, including performing well on the MCAT, paying for medical school and balancing work and family as a physician — all issues addressed by the advertising spots and the Web site.
The outreach effort will start at four universities with the largest number of minority biology majors, racial diversity and affiliation with medical schools. They are California State University, Fresno, Rutgers University, the University of Arizona and the University of Pittsburgh.
The campaign will also target younger students who may not have decided on a major.
The targeted outreach at these schools “will help us understand the dynamics on campus,” says Kevin Harris, director of AAMC’s Division of Diversity Policy and Programs. “It will help us understand how students learn about careers, the channels that exist on campus and how to help them to remain engaged.”
AAMC projects a doctor shortage by 2015, and says more minority physicians are critical to improving overall health care as the country becomes increasingly diverse. While Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians make up 25 percent of the U.S. population, only 12 percent of medical school graduates and just 6 percent of practicing physicians hail from these groups.
— By Dianne Hayes
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