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Diversity in Medicine

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has focused efforts on “increasing diversity in the physician workforce in the U.S.”. A 1970 AAMC policy statement noted that underrepresented minority groups had encountered “inequitable barriers” to the medical professions and committed to correcting the inequities in the process of medical school admissions. Since that time several programs were developed in response to this commitment in hopes of increasing the diversity in the health care field.


The current AAMC definition of “underrepresented in medicine” (URM) refers to “blacks, Mexican Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and mainland Puerto Ricans” (2004, MSAR, p. 73). These groups were deemed to be underrepresented in the medical field in proportion to their percentage of the population in the U.S. The current minority categories are currently under review by a committee considering factors such as demographic changes in recent years, revised federal guidelines regarding collection of racial and ethnicity data, and concerns about the current legal climate.


Programs Offered Through AAMC

The AAMC Division of Community and Minority Programs (DCPM) promotes diversity and equity by coordinating various programs and services and by working closely with medical school admissions personnel.


The Summer Medical and Dental Educational Program (SMDEP) is a free six-week (full tuition, housing, and meals) intensive summer medical and dental school preparatory program for highly motivated students. Funded by the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, this program offers intensive personalized medical school preparation. The program is offered at eleven medical school sites around the country. The application for this program goes online in early November each year.


The Fee Assistance Program (FAP) helps students whose limited financial means would prevent them from paying the cost of the MCAT or AMCAS application fees. For the MCAT, a FAP approval will reduce the registration fee from $185 to $80. For AMCAS, a FAP approval will enable an applicant to apply to up to 10 medical schools with the application fee waived.


The Medical Minority Applicant Registry (MED-MAR) is a self-identification registry that identifies and provides information about URM status and financially disadvantaged MCAT examinees. Students are given the opportunity to register at the time they take the MCAT. The MED-MAR program then circulates biographical information about the applicant to the minority affairs and admissions offices of all U.S. medical schools. Medical schools wishing to increase their minority applicant pool will use the information to contact applicants directly. Information about the criteria for participation and registration information is available at the website.


A publication entitled Minority Student Opportunities in the United States Medical Schools (MSOUSMS) is published in even numbered years. This publication provides information from individual medical schools about their minority student recruitment, statistics, and related topics. Information on enrichment programs offered by medical schools is listed on a school-by-school basis.


There are also programs available once a student gains admission to medical school, such as financial assistance programs and academic and support programs. A wide variety of information and hyperlinks of interest are available at the AAMC Minorities in Medicine section of the website. These links include information on minority matriculant data, publications of interest, and data on medical school faculty.