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Medical school obligations include educating a more diverse
physician workforce to redress current disparities in health care
where minority patients tend to receive less and lower quality
Philadelphia, November 2, 2015 -- The American College of
Physicians (ACP) today joined the Association of American Medical
Colleges and 31 other organizations in an amicus curiae
(friend of the court) brief to the Supreme Court of the United
States in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin case, urging
the court to uphold considerations of race and ethnicity in the
medical school admissions process.
The petitioners argue that significant health disparities
continue to exist in the U.S. along several lines, including
socio-economic status, residence in a rural or urban environment,
and, most notably, race and ethnicity. Factors contributing to
these disparities include an inadequate number of doctors
practicing in underserved areas and the solution is a workforce of
culturally competent health professionals.
"Student diversity clearly benefits all medical school students,
faculty, and practicing physicians by enhancing opportunities for
improved cultural competencies and sensitivity," said Wayne J.
Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, MACP, president, ACP. "Preventing, inhibiting,
or barring medical schools from considering race and ethnicity in
admissions would undermine policies intended to provide enhanced
opportunities in the medical profession for students from minority
and underserved populations and would counter necessary efforts to
achieve a more diversified physician workforce to serve an
increasingly more diverse American public."
In its "Racial
and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care" policy ACP says that
"medical and other health professional schools should revitalize
efforts to improve matriculation and graduation rates of minority
students. ACP supports policies that allow institutions of higher
education to consider a person's race and ethnicity as one factor
in determining admission in order to counter the impact of current
discriminatory practices and the legacy of past discrimination
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, in
2013 out of the total U.S. MD active physicians, 4.1% were Black or
African American, 4.4% were Hispanic or Latino, 0.4% were American
Indian or Alaska Native, and 11.7% were Asian.
"Much work needs to be done by our nation's medical schools to
improve representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the
medical profession," Dr. Riley said.
Also, the ACP Ethics
Manual states: "Physicians should provide culturally
sensitive care. Cross-cultural efficacy 'implies the caregiver is
effective in interactions that involve individuals of different
cultures and that neither the caregiver's nor the patient's culture
is the preferred or more accurate view. Cultural humility 'enhances
patient care by effectively weaving an attitude of learning about
cultural differences into patient encounters.'"
ACP and 29 other organizations filed a similar brief to the
Court in this case in 2012.
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest
medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician
group in the United States. ACP members include 143,000 internal
medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and
medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who
apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis,
treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum
from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.