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Acad Med. 1997 Feb;72(2):103-9.

Finishing the bridge to diversity.

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AAMC, Washington, DC 20037-1127, USA.


While much progress has been made to diversify the medical workforce in regard to gender, there is a long way to go with regard to race and ethnicity. The author emphasizes that seeking diversity in the medical professions is imperative to achieve just and equitable access to rewarding careers, improved access to health care for the under-served, culturally competent care (which includes the issue of patients' satisfaction with their care), comprehensive research agenda targeted to the problems of all areas of the population, and use of the rich and diverse pool of the nation's talent to better manage the health care system. In the 1960s the civil rights movement and civil unrest woke up the nation's institutions to the need for affirmative action initiatives, and academic medicine was one of the first to respond: there was a dramatic rise in the percentage of underrepresented minority medical school matriculants. But in the mid-1970s, this trend stalled. To state it again, the AAMC in 1991 created Project 3000 by 2000 as a longterm strategy to effect small scale educational reform in the K-12 schools and colleges that are responsible for the academic preparation of potential underrespresented-minority (URM) applicants. For a few years, the attention to URMs created by this program, and other factors, spurred a significant increase in the percentage of URM matriculants and proved the power of affirmative action. But the increase has not continued. The author maintains that this may be largely because affirmative action is being pursued with less vigor and in some cases has been stopped by law. He concludes with a vigorous defense of affirmative action and maintains that it must be used alongside more long-term solutions such as project 3000 by 2000 to achieve true diversity in the medical professions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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