Ethic, gender diversity increasing in medical schools
Medicine

Ethic, gender diversity increasing in medical schools

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The number of Black, Hispanic and female applicants and enrollees continued to increase at U.S. medical schools in the 2022-23 academic year, according to new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges.

This year, the number of medical school applicants returned to pre-pandemic levels, after the 2021-2022 academic year data revealed a record-setting and atypical 18% increase of medical school applicants during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Due to this unprecedented increase during the onset of the public health crisis, the AAMC compared data from the 2022-23 academic year with the 2020-21 academic year for its annual data release. 

Using this comparison, the data shows that total enrollment grew by 3%. Specifically, the number of students applying to medical school increased by 4% from 2020-21 to 2022-23, and the number of first-year enrollees (matriculants) was up 2% from 2020-21.

“The AAMC has seen a steady increase in applications and enrollments over the last several years as students considering a career in medicine continue to answer the call to service,” said AAMC president and CEO Dr. David J. Skorton.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT

The nation’s medical schools continue to attract and enroll more diverse classes, data showed.

The total increase in medical schools is good news for the nationwide physician shortage. In 2021, the AAMC said the United States could see an estimated shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034, including shortfalls in both primary and specialty care.

The number of Black or African American matriculants increased by 9%. Black or African American students made up 10% of matriculants in 2022-23, up from 9.5% in 2020-21. First-year Black or African American men increased by 5%.

Matriculants who are Hispanic, Latino or of Spanish origin increased by 4%. Individuals from this group made up 12% of total matriculants.

American Indian or Alaska Native matriculants declined by 9%, comprising 1% of matriculants.

On the gender front, women continued to make gains in 2022-23, making up 57% of applicants, 56% of matriculants, and 54% of total enrollment. This is the fourth year in a row that women made up the majority of these three groups.

2022-23 was the first time in seven years that the number of men matriculants did not decline, according to the data.

The data also shows increased diversity in the socioeconomic status of matriculants, applicants and acceptees. Matriculants with a parent whose highest level of education was less than a bachelor’s degree or any degree with an occupation categorized as “service, clerical, skilled, and unskilled” increased from 21% in 2020-21 to 22% in 2022-23.

THE LARGER TREND

The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic arm of UnitedHealth Group, said in June it’s making a $100 million commitment over 10 years to advance health equity, in what it framed as a continuation of its efforts to eliminate health disparities. UHG said this was the largest single philanthropic commitment ever made by the United Health Foundation and will focus on helping build a racially and ethnically diverse health workforce.

Through philanthropic programs and partnerships, the funding will provide scholarships and support to 10,000 underrepresented future clinicians and upskilling health professionals to help in obtaining academic degrees or other professional credentials for clinical careers in medicine, nursing, midwifery, mental health and other specialties.

UHG said it had a long-standing commitment to advancing a more diverse health workforce and has launched a number of initiatives aimed at that goal.

Among the initiatives is to train underrepresented students in healthcare technology fields. UHG cited National Science Foundation statistics indicating that Black, Hispanic and Native American people account for only 7.1% of the employed biological/biomedical and life sciences workforce. UHG has invested $10 million to support data science training at historically Black colleges and universities since 2017, it said.
 

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