How might the continuing trend of increased diversity in medical schools influence patient outcomes and satisfaction in the future?
As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, medical schools nationwide are showing a promising trend towards increased diversity in their student bodies, reflecting efforts to address historical inequities and create a workforce that better represents the patient population.
- Medical schools have been increasingly focused on improving student diversity, in response to demonstrated health inequities and findings that patient satisfaction improves when doctors and patients share ethnic or racial backgrounds.
- A study by Penn Medicine indicates higher patient satisfaction ratings when physicians and patients share the same ethnic or racial background.
- The methodology for ranking medical schools by diversity used two indicators: total enrollment of underrepresented minorities (URM) and the ratio of a school’s URM students compared to state and national figures.
- Howard University had the highest URM enrollment (78.2%) in 2022.
- According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2022, 57% of the more than 22,000 students enrolled in medical school identified as non-White, a 5% increase from 2019. Additionally, women represented 55.6% of students matriculating to medical school in the 2022-2023 cycle.
- Despite efforts and improvements, minority representation in medical schools nationwide still does not reflect the general population.
- Although absolute numbers of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian students in medical schools have increased, these groups still represent a percentage of total med school students below their age-matched peers in the US population.
- URM is defined as students who are Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.
- Some schools with lower URM enrollments still achieve high diversity rankings due to higher ratios of URM students to age-related peers in their respective states.
- Although significant strides have been made towards increasing diversity in medical schools, there’s a need for continued efforts to ensure that the physician workforce accurately reflects the diversity of the patient population it serves.
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Did You Know?
University of Vermont had a relatively low URM enrollment, but it still represented a higher ratio of URM students to age-related peers in its state compared with many other schools.