To the Editor:
David Steele’s May 13 article, “Does More Medical School Mean More Black Doctors?” Effectively illustrates the challenges and opportunities needed to attract more black students to medical school. Historically, opening two new medical schools at a black institution is a great step, but it will take a much wider effort from the medical education community to meet the goal of diversifying our country’s medical workforce.
This is a goal that colleges of osteopathic medicine (COMs) take very seriously. In a significant first step, last fall, each member of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM) issued the first statement of its kind acknowledging that systematic inequalities in the American education system are adversely affecting the diversity of osteopathic medical school applicants. . The statement outlines model strategies for improving and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion across osteopathic medical education, as well as opportunities to restructure and expand diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. We certainly hope that our co-health education associations will follow suit. As institutions of higher learning, we must all come together, as the osteopathic medical education community has done, to address the systemic inequalities that plague our country’s education system and impede the progress of all.
As Steele noted, however, it takes longer than a new school to change mobility in the minority community below. Towards this end, two weeks ago, AACOM launched a new program dedicated to supplementing guidelines on health equality and health inequality the Academic Recognition Program. The program will initially be available to third-year medical students (usually when medical students begin their full-time clinical experience) at each COM in the United States. The first course of the program focuses specifically on discrimination and inequality. The following three courses enhance students’ ability to recognize and understand situations that may contribute to inequality.
By better equipping physicians in all communities and with practicing them, we hope to improve patient outcomes and demonstrate the value and rewards of serving the community as well as strengthening relationships and trust between patients and physicians.
By working with HBCUs, such as Morgan State University and Xavier University, to open new medical schools and ensure that the physicians we train are ready to treat patients from every community, we can create a more inclusive medical education environment for black students. Interesting and students from each lower representative community. The country’s osteopathic medicine colleges are committed to diversifying medical students and ensuring that medical education is accessible to all. We invite all higher education institutions to join us in working together towards a healthier, more equitable future.
–Rabert A. Kane
President and CEO
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine