Photo by Ani Kolleshi on Unsplash

From 2002 to 2017, Medical Schools across the nation have seen an increase in minority and female representation.  Many accredit this growth to a 2009 stipulation where all medical schools were required to “implement policies that help them attract and retain more diverse students.”  The punishment for schools that failed or refused to do so led to citations from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education which could ultimately affect an institution’s accreditation status.

According to NPR, “In a research letter published today in JAMA, researchers examine the changing demographics of medical students from 2002 to 2017. They found an increase in diversity in enrollment, especially since 2012, which the researchers think may be the first year new standards could be expected to have an effect.”

In 2017, “7.3 percent of new medical students identified as black, up from 6.8 percent in 2002. Students identifying as female made up 50.4 of matriculants, up from 49 percent in 2002. Hispanics represented 8.9 percent of students, up from 5.4 percent in 2002 and Asian students were 24.6 percent of students, up from 20.8 percent.”

While a positive growth, this may still not be enough to create a sustainable field long term.

“We see the trend going up, but it’s going up very slowly,” says Dr. Dowin Boatright, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale University and coauthor of the study. “If we’re trying to get some degree of representation that matches the proportion of black people in the population as a whole … We’re talking 20 to 50 years.”

In an effort to address this, a push to better establish a pipeline for minorities and women has been created.  But this can still take decades to do effectively.  Establishing a new normal by recruiting minorities usually forgotten in the process will be challenging, but under the right support can happen.