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Levers of change: a review of contemporary interventions to enhance diversity in medical schools in the USA

Authors Vick AD, Baugh A, Lambert J, Vanderbilt AA, Ingram E, Garcia R, Baugh RF

Received 1 August 2017

Accepted for publication 3 November 2017

Published 19 January 2018 Volume 2018:9 Pages 53—61

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/AMEP.S147950

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Anwarul Azim Majumder


Alexis Danielle Vick,1 Aaron Baugh,2 Julie Lambert,1 Allison A Vanderbilt,3 Evan Ingram,1 Richard Garcia,4 Reginald F Baugh5

1College of Medicine and Life Sciences, 2Department of Internal Medicine, 3Department of Family Medicine, College of Medicine and Life Science, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, 4Consultant, The Ethnic Health Institute, Oakland, CA, 5Department of Surgery, College of Medicine and Life Sciences, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH, USA

Abstract: A growing body of research illustrates the importance of aligning efforts across the operational continuum to achieve diversity goals. This alignment begins with the institutional mission and the message it conveys about the priorities of the institution to potential applicants, community, staff, and faculty. The traditional themes of education, research, and service dominate most medical school mission statements. The emerging themes of physician maldistribution, overall primary-care physician shortage, diversity, and cost control are cited less frequently. The importance and salience of having administrative leaders with an explicit commitment to workforce and student diversity is a prominent and pivotal factor in the medical literature on the subject. Organizational leadership shapes the general work climate and expectations concerning diversity, recruitment, and retention. Following the Bakke decision, individual medical schools, supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, worked to expand the frame of reference for evaluating applicants for medical school. These efforts have come together under the rubric of “holistic review”, permitted by the US Supreme Court in 2003. A large diverse-applicant pool is needed to ensure the appropriate candidates can be chosen for the incoming medical school class. Understanding the optimal rationale and components for a successful recruitment program is important. Benchmarking with other schools regionally and nationally will identify what should be the relative size of a pool. Diversity is of compelling interest to us all, and should pervade all aspects of higher education, including admissions, the curriculum, student services and activities, and our faculties. The aim of medical education is to cultivate a workforce with the perspectives, aptitudes, and skills needed to fuel community-responsive health-care institutions. A commitment toward diversity needs to be made.

Keywords: diversity, inclusion, medical school admissions, admissions committee

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