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Action Plan 4: Increase Significantly the Number of Diverse 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.

Despite existing efforts, the academic medicine community has made minimal and slow progress in increasing the number of physicians from racially and ethnically diverse and low-income backgrounds. We need more assertive efforts to cultivate a more diverse and culturally prepared workforce. 

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 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. Additional AC activities and resources can be found at https://www.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. 

Fostering Community 

  • We launched the Pathway Programs Consortium, a virtual community designed to support pathway programs with resources, models, and tools to elevate promising practices, support program sustainability, and increase impact. 

Building Partnerships 

  • The AAMC, Association of American Indian Physicians, Association of Native American Medical Students, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, and the Center of American Indian and Minority Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus formed the Indigenous Health, Education, and Resource Taskforce (IHEART) to address the underrepresentation of American Indians and Alaska Natives across the health professions. With support from AAMC, IHEART hosted three virtual summits as well as in-person summits in 2022 and 2023 to identify systemic barriers and explore and implement strategies to address regional needs.  
  • 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 prepare for the impending 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.   
  • Pilot 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.  

Ways to Get Involved