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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

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Medical schools not doing enough to recruit Black applicants, report says


Despite a recent survey by Kaplan, the College of Medicine is building pipeline programs to ensure diversity in future medical classes as part of their diversity and inclusion plan. | File Photo

Despite a recent survey by Kaplan, the College of Medicine is building pipeline programs to ensure diversity in future medical classes as part of their diversity and inclusion plan. | File Photo

In a recent survey conducted by Kaplan, results reveal medical schools are not recruiting enough Black students. 

Kaplan’s results come after a recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges showing the number of Black first-year students increased by 10.5 percent nationwide as more people focus on correcting racial inequalities in medicine.

However, 48 percent of medical schools surveyed said they have a specific program to recruit Black applicants, according to Kaplan’s senior communications manager Russell Schaffer.

“While medical schools are largely supportive of America’s most prominent social justice movement, far fewer have specific programs to increase the number of Black students at their school,” said Schaffer. “Of the medical schools polled, 88 percent said they put out a statement to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Like the 88 percent, the UH College of Medicine released a statement by Dr. Stephen Spann discussing the impact of structural racism and social injustice on the health of the community on June 9, 2020.

In the statement, Spann reaffirms the College’s mission of training a class of diverse and compassionate physicians for underserved areas, and acknowledges the work needed to dismantle systems that affect marginalized groups.

“We must recognize that structural racism and social injustice are major impediments to improving the health of our community,” Spann said. “And we must commit ourselves to work towards their abolishment.” 

Keeping to its mission, the UH College of Medicine’s inaugural class consists of 30 students, 73 percent being from underrepresented groups. 

Out of the 30 students, 30 percent are Black, making it the second-largest group in the inaugural class.

As a part of their diversity and inclusion policy, the medical school actively works to recruit students, faculty and staff that reflect the diversity of Houston’s population.

Additionally, the College of Medicine is building pipeline programs to garner interest and recruit middle school to college students, according to Kenya Steele, clinical associate professor and assistant dean of Diversity and Outreach.

The program will help the college to attract talented and diverse students into their medical school classes.

“Being mindful to be inclusive of students from underrepresented groups in medicine, we are recruiting from schools with high percentages of students from underrepresented groups and low socioeconomic status,” Steele said.

The first college pipeline program will begin this summer, with a high school program starting in the fall.

Currently, the College conducts interactive outreach to middle school students in the Houston area, and is inclusive of students from historically Black colleges and universities and Hispanic serving institutions. 

“We recognize students in the mentioned groups are often not recruited and do not tend to have role models in medical careers,” Steele said.

“I believe you cannot become what you cannot see, and we are striving to provide opportunities for students to see and access pathways to become our future physicians and improve health care in communities,” Steele continued.

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Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story had a misspelled name which has now been corrected

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