Challenges and Opportunities of Racial Diversity in Medical Education

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Abstract

Racial and cultural diversity in the physician workforce (in orthopaedics this includes women) is an essential if the best healthcare for the American people is to be provided. The percentage of minorities to the white population is increasing yet their representation in medical schools and the practicing community has not risen at that same pace. Affirmative Action efforts continue to be challenged as lowering standards and depriving better qualified students admission to medical schools. Admissions committees and orthopaedic residency directors should recognize that grade point averages and test scores may not be the best predictors of how well a physician or surgeon cares for patients. How far a person has come and what obstacles they have had to overcome, their demonstrated caring and compassion for people, their understanding of diverse cultures and languages may be a far better predictor of the quality of care physicians give to their patients. Affirmative Action should not be looked on as lowering standards, but using all available information in the selection process for medical school and residency training to ensure that the medical profession more closely mirrors the diverse racial and ethnic background of the United States population. How far a person has come and the adversity they have overcome may have far greater impact on making the correct diagnosis and setting out a proper treatment plan that the patient will accept than mastering test taking in the biologic and physical sciences. Obtaining racial and cultural diversity in the medical profession should be a national imperative.

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