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Action Plan 4: Increase the Diversity of Medical School Applicants and Matriculants

Geoffrey Young, PhD; Mark Bedell, EdD; and Misty Huacuja-LaPointe, MEd, describe how the AAMC is working on three focus areas to increase the number of diverse medical school applicants and matriculants.

Recent studies have shown that diverse health care and research teams improve health outcomes and can better identify and solve complex scientific problems.  Racial and ethnic diversity in medical schools and in the health professional workforce are critical components in our nation’s response to health inequities and play important roles in the development of competencies for all physicians.

By galvanizing the expertise of its member institutions and developing strategic partnerships, this action plan endeavors to make the pathway to the health professions more accessible, equitable, attainable, and desirable for underrepresented populations and historically marginalized communities. The AAMC is uniquely positioned to drive this initiative because of its robust repository of aspirant applicant and enrollment data, extensive analysis of trends in the physician workforce, relationships with experts in higher education, health care, and policy, and proven success with facilitating critical and crucial conversations. 

Where we are now

Listening and Learning

  • The Strategic Action Plan 4 team collaborated with colleagues across the association to organize a first-of-its-kind summit in July 2023. This event drew over 65 attendees from K-12 school districts, White House appointees, national education associations, member medical schools, and teaching hospitals across the nation. Through presentations, panel discussions, and interactive workshops, the AAMC fostered engagement, relationship-building, and partnerships to unite around shared objectives.
  • The AAMC, in partnership with the National Medical Association, convened nearly 100 thought leaders from educational systems, medical schools, and organizations representing the sciences, health professions, higher education, health systems, and Black men and youth to develop a national action plan to address the underrepresentation of Black men in Medicine during the inaugural AC Strategy Summit in October 2022. In February, four virtual forums were hosted which invited interested parties to contribute to further strategy development related to admission, engaging student athletes, financing and funding and K-12 engagement. This was followed by over 200 partners gathering a virtual national meeting in June 2023. Additional AC activities and resources can be found at aamc.org/actioncollabforbmim.
  • Eleven medical school deans are participating in a Council of Deans Insight Circle focused on developing a leadership accountability framework to advance physician workforce diversity.
  • Conducted 6 focus groups at the Association of American Indian Physicians Conference with over 45 American Indian/Alaska Native premed, medical students and practicing physicians.
  • Hosted focus groups, judged competitive events, and exhibited at the HOSA Future Health Professionals International Leadership Conference.

Fostering Community

  • An upcoming launch of the student holistic support virtual community, a webinar will be held on Nov 15 titled Junctures and Journeys: Helping Students Navigate Critical Junctures of Medical Education.

Building Partnerships

  • The AAMC launched a partnership with The Steve Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the mental health and emotional well-being of young people of color, to develop resources to help medical schools better support medical student mental health, with an emphasis on those who are underrepresented in medicine.

Sharing Best Practices

Developing and Disseminating Resources

  • The AAMC is pleased to announce a new tool that you can use in all phases of the recruitment and admission cycle at your institution. The Holistic Considerations for the Admissions Cycle guide is a free tool for identifying actions to make your admissions process more mission aligned. To make the guide easy to use, we’ve provided an editable version of the checklist that you can customize for your institution, in addition to the PDF that includes more context.
    A committee of medical school leaders, prehealth advisors from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions and the National Association of Medical Minority Educators, and AAMC experts is providing consultation for the development of a premedical advising training focused on equity-minded advising approaches.

Collecting and Analyzing Data

  • AAMC and Morehouse School of Medicine co-administered the National Health Sciences STEM Pathway Survey to gather national data on current pathway programs and identify effective STEM practices. The data collected will be used to create a public repository, shape programs serving traditionally underrepresented and historically marginalized learners entering health professions, and accelerate programs’ progress and parity. Data shared via the survey will also help inform national accountability and impact metrics for these important efforts.


What Happens Next

In 2023, we will:

  • Continue working with subject matter experts from our member institutions to identify and build out systems-based resources to implement holistic review with fidelity, to discuss impact of SCOTUS decisions, and to support and graduate a diverse cohort in an equitable manner.
  • Convene subject matter experts from multiple sectors to better understand the impact and influence of K-12 educators in building a diverse, prepared healthcare workforce.  
  • Finalize building the first module of the premedical advising training and begin curriculum development of modules 2-4. 
  • Facilitate roundtables and establish working groups to address specific systems factors identified by the Action Collaborative and attendees of the Strategy Summit and the virtual National Meeting. 
  • Launch the internal and network capacity building phase of the Illinois specific pilot of the Action Collaborative for Black Men in medicine, focusing on cross-collaboration and enhancing and building systems that support the development of local talent.
  • Learn Serve Lead will have a Table topic on Pre-Med Advisor Training Modules & Critical Junctures Map.
  • The AAMC virtual community for Pathway Programs is planning another webinar on the topic of grant writing, slated for late October or middle of November.
  • We have moved along with next steps post-summit, including developing an outline for the proceedings to describe the strategy, experience, and scope of the K12 Summit which will release at the end of October.

Ways to Get Involved

  • Join the Pathway Programs Virtual Community and receive updates about upcoming webinars by emailing pathways@aamc.org.
  • Join the Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine’s Virtual Community by completing this intake form.
  • Join a working group. Email actionacollabforblackmen@aamc.org for more information.
  • The Holistic Student Support Community will open to everyone on Wednesday, November 1. Anyone who is already a registered member of a virtual community will just need to search for the community’s name and click “Join.” Anyone who is not registered for a virtual community will need to sign up. It normally takes about one day between the request to sign up and approval.