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Importance of Diversity in Health Care

Diversity, equity, and inclusion in medical education and the physician workforce is critical for everyone’s health.

Incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs into medical education is about helping future doctors better understand the specific issues that each patient is facing to provide better medical care. This work is critical to addressing the long-standing and well-documented inequities in our health care system and their impact on the health of patients and communities around the country.

Diversity goes beyond race, ethnicity, and language. Patients who are veterans, of different religions, live in rural areas, or are disabled may have unique and specific life experiences. Doctors who understand something about those experiences can provide more effective and personalized care.

The AAMC’s mission is to improve the health of people everywhere.

As stated in a March 2024 joint statement issued by the AAMC and several health care and medical organizations:

"We aim for excellence in patient care which cannot exist until we have a physician workforce capable of caring for all patients and their needs holistically, and until the profession of medicine is accessible to all qualified individuals."

AAMC endorses resolution recognizing the importance of DEI in medical education

Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio), co-chair of the Congressional Black Caucus’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force, and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), co-chair of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus, introduced a resolution recognizing the importance of DEI in medical education. In support of the resolution, David J. Skorton, MD, president and CEO of the AAMC, said, “Medical schools are in the best position to identify how to prepare their students to meet the needs of the physician workforce and must have the autonomy and flexibility to do so. When a medical school recognizes the benefits associated with cultivating student belonging—fostering educational benefits associated with all types of diversity, ensuring equal educational opportunities for their students, and providing instruction on evidence-based knowledge they deem to be fundamental—it is within their purview and their responsibility to pursue those efforts.”

Read More from Congresswoman Joyce Beatty 
Read More from Congresswoman Kathy Castor

What Do We Mean by Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are critical tools that help us achieve excellence in patient care by better preparing physicians to care for all communities across the country. Collectively, DEI programs form a framework that represents the efforts of medical schools to provide high quality treatment for all individuals in our society.


DIVERSITY is a way to describe all aspects of humanity – including our individual differences, characteristics, and experiences. Diversity includes everyone.

Diversity refers to all aspects of human differences including but not limited to socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography (including rural and highly rural areas), language, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, disability, and age1.


EQUITY recognizes that we do not all start from the same place because resources are unevenly distributed. Equity considers the specific needs or circumstances of a person or group and provides the resources needed to be successful.

For example, equitable support for students is providing mentors and financial resources to prospective students who have the talents and abilities to enter medical school, but who do not have access to the support needed to pursue their career aspirations to become a doctor. Equity in the clinical care setting is about making sure that every patient – regardless of their identity, background, income, or education level – receives the care needed to live the healthiest life possible.

Equity is not the same as equality. While equality means providing the same to all, equity requires recognizing that we do not all start from the same place2.


INCLUSION provides the opportunity and environment where everyone has a meaningful experience in and contribution toward our medical schools and health systems and discourages feelings of being unwelcome, left out, or out of place. Programs focused on inclusion ensure that everyone has a sense of belonging in medical school regardless of their parents’ income, profession, or status in society. With inclusion, everyone has a seat at the table.

Inclusion means adding the experiences of patients from diverse backgrounds in medical curriculum to ensure future doctors are aware of and can better address their health care needs3. For example, including people from rural backgrounds, lower socioeconomic status, and a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities is critical to being prepared to care for all.

Inclusion is a core element for successfully achieving diversity. Inclusion is achieved by nurturing the climate and culture of the institution through professional development, education, policy, and practice. The objective is to create a climate that fosters belonging, respect, and value for all and encourages engagement and connection throughout the institution and community4.

My Story Matters

In this AAMC video series, medical students and physicians explain how their unique personal experiences have guided their careers in medicine and how halting efforts to incorporate diversity, equity, and inclusion in medicine would have devastating consequences on America’s health.

Joel Bervell

Fourth year Washington State University Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine medical student Joel Bervell talks about how diversity in medicine is so important to addressing health disparities and why personal stories should continue to be considered in medical school applications.

Donna Tran, MPH

Fourth year Michigan State University College of Human Medicine medical student Donna Tran, MPH, shares how her personal experience impacted her desire to pursue a medical degree and help patients with mental health issues in underserved communities.

Michael Walls, DO, MPH

Michael Walls, DO, MPH, an emergency medicine intern at George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences, explains how diversity in the health care workforce helps break cultural barriers and promotes improved communication – leading to better patient outcomes.

Lee Jones, MD

Lee Jones, MD, dean of medical education, Georgetown University School of Medicine, shares how diversity in the public health workforce promotes better outcomes for patients. Prohibiting the ability for colleges to consider applicants' racial ethnicity to medical schools would stall progress and hinder our goals of delivering outstanding patient care for all our communities.