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Programs to Increase Diversity in the Medical Profession

There are a number of racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population. These include four historically underrepresented groups - Blacks, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans and Latinos. These designated groups are sometimes expanded to include a broader range of ethnicities and a greater focus on regional and local demographics so as to improve the cultural competencies of graduating physicians and improve access to care for underserved populations. These students and students from rural or disadvantaged areas are often accepted into medical school with GPAs below 3.3 or slightly lower scores.

During the last decades, medical schools were challenged to develop enrichment programs to encourage more members of underrepresented groups to seek a career in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Some medical schools responded by developing summer academic study programs specifically for underrepresented minority students. Other medical schools decided to offer summer research programs such as the Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program at Cornell University, where students pursue a research problem under faculty supervision, and also attend classroom lectures, talks by minority physicians and hospital rounds. Several medical schools offer pre-entry programs to underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students who have been accepted to medical school. For example, Ohio State University offers a six week summer program which includes instruction in anatomy, biochemistry, neuroanatomy and physiology.

The AAMC and many medical schools offer regional one day conferences or workshops aimed at educating college students about health care issues and opportunities in medicine. Many medical institutions have developed postbaccalaureate programs to help underrepresented minority or disadvantaged students prepare for the MCAT and provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their ability in the sciences. Postbaccalaureate programs like these are available at Southern Illinois University and the University of Connecticut. Creighton University and others offer a one-year postbaccalaureate program with guaranteed admission to their medical school after successful completion of the program. Other postbaccalaureate programs at other medical schools and some undergraduate institutions, such as Bryn Mawr College on the east coast and Mills College on the west coast, welcome disadvantaged or underrepresented minority students.