Seth Bodner: Medical students in the U.S. can’t escape the growing diversity problem

Patients treated by U.S. doctors are likely to be as diverse and educated as ever when they walk into a U.S. medical school, as enrollments in medical schools have reached historic highs, enrollments in…

Seth Bodner: Medical students in the U.S. can't escape the growing diversity problem

Patients treated by U.S. doctors are likely to be as diverse and educated as ever when they walk into a U.S. medical school, as enrollments in medical schools have reached historic highs, enrollments in all medical fields have reached a 60-year high, and the job market for medical students has reached a record in terms of volume and quality.

What’s especially impressive is that recent years’ record set on medical student enrollment is being matched by higher levels of diversity. The number of African American students entering medical school is at an all-time high. Latinos and Asian Americans were also in the majority.

Despite their growing presence, these three groups are underrepresented in the medical field as a whole.

For example, African American and Hispanic doctors make up only 10 percent of the graduating medical students.

Our nation’s leaders have made a concerted effort to expand access to more minorities for clinical positions and residency training. As part of the Affordable Care Act, HHS launched a University Pre-Residency Training pilot program and will serve up to 900 residency positions at 42 institutions.

On a broader scale, the White House released a report in February that the United States will reach its goal of having a racial and ethnic health disparity in the proportion of minority Americans who have health insurance by the end of 2019.

This report also unveiled what the analysis calls a “deeply troubling” racial and ethnic disparity, which shows that while 11.6 percent of white Americans have insurance, 15.4 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, 16.5 percent of Hispanics and 23.4 percent of African Americans do not have health insurance.

Another promising trend is the ability of pediatric medicine to continue to grow in the United States. It’s a key leadership position and a path that’s been recognized internationally.

In 2018, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams announced that he intends to promote pediatric care in his mission for “America’s healthcare.”

And it was reported that Jackson-Nelson’s $70 million initiative to recruit, train and retain a larger student body of pediatric residents and medical students has exceeded its goals. The initiative also helped increase the number of teenage black women in K-12 school systems, which resulted in an increase in students entering the University of Miami’s School of Medicine.

A total of 6,360 students are expected to study the family medicine, surgery, family practice, medical and surgical fields, according to data from the 2017-2018 school year. New data for 2018-2019 has not yet been reported.

This means that nearly 7,000 students are expected to begin medical school this fall, which exceeds previous records by 30 percent.

The future looks bright for students who choose to enter the medical field. It remains to be seen what the future holds for medical students.

Seth Bodner is dean of the School of Medicine at the University of Miami, and is co-founder and CEO of the Jackson-Nelson Initiative.

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