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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 backgrounds.

Effecting meaningful change will require concerted, strategic, coordinated, and collaborative efforts at various levels and across many sectors. By galvanizing the expertise of AAMC’s 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.  

Action Plan 4 is a phased initiative that integrates deep listening with action-oriented analyses, data-driven insights, and meaningful collaborations. This phase of the work has five primary goals. 

Goals 

  1. Provide pathway programs with resources, tools, data, models, and an established community that will enable them to measure and track program outcomes, enhance program structure and offerings, and increase impact.  

  1. Conduct in-depth needs assessment of learners, their educators, and support systems to determine their knowledge of, perceptions about, exposure and access to, and interest in health professions. The analysis will identify gaps, prioritize solutions, and determine the role AP4 can play.  

  1. Develop toolkits that include education, strategies, and resources related to exposure to, preparation for, application to, and matriculation to medical school along various points on the educational journey.   

  1. Provide medical schools with systems-based resources and models that facilitate transforming the culture of medical education to select, support, and graduate a diverse cohort of medical students in a holistic and equitable manner. 

  1. In partnership with the National Medical Association, the Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine (AC) will identify and implement systemic solutions to increase the representation and success of Black men interested in medicine. 

Where we are now

Data Collection & Analysis

  • With endorsement and support from the AAMC Council of Deans, the AAMC-MSM National Health Sciences STEM Pipeline Survey has been completed to gather national data on pathway programs. 

  • We conducted focus groups and interviews to gain insight into the experiences of Black/African American and American Indian/Alaska Native individuals across the educational continuum (from middle school-practicing physician) to learn about their inspirations to pursue medicine, hear reflections on their journeys, gain insight into the challenges they faced, identify what contributed to their success, and understand what may have led to any pathway detours or career changes. 

  • We analyzed admission patterns and trends to identify member schools with the most diverse medical student bodies, as well as those with increasing diversity. We then interviewed schools that had significant or upward trending diversity data to learn more about them.

Digital Communications & Outreach

  • The IDEAS webinar, Socially Accountable Admissions: Using a different lens to evaluate medical school applicants and promote workforce diversity, featured speakers from the UC-Davis School of Medicine, discussing the admissions tools, recruitment policies and practices, community partnerships, innovative pathways programs, and mission-focused school tracks they have developed and implemented. 

  • The AAMC launched the Pathway Programs Consortium, a virtual community designed to foster authentic cross-sector collaboration, continuous quality improvement, and connection to relevant resources, models, and tools for pathway program capacity building.  

  • 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 summits to identify systemic barriers and explore and implement strategies to address regional needs. 

  • We built a comprehensive inventory of all learner-facing digital content at the AAMC and began updating outdated content and collaborating with constituent content authors to provide information about their backgrounds, identities, and pathways to medicine.

  • The AC identified three sets of systems factors that influence the trajectory of Black men entering medicine including premed, academic medicine, and socio-cultural. The AC decided to focus on two priority areas including addressing the systems of pre-health advising (premed systems factor) and leadership accountability (academic medicine systems factor). As a result, the AC has formed a committee of internal AAMC experts, medical school leaders, and prehealth advising leaders from the National Association of Advisors for the Health Professions and the National Association of Medical Minority Educators to provide consultation for the development of a premedical advising training focused on equity-minded advising approaches.  
    • In addition, the AC has identified 11 medical school deans to participate in a Council of Deans Insight Circle focused on developing a leadership accountability framework to advance physician workforce diversity.

Publications

  • To increase awareness, interest and potential partnerships, the AC organizing and steering core committee members wrote an article, titled, Increasing the Representation of Black Men in Medicine by Addressing Systems Factors. The article was published digitally in October 2022 in AAMC’s journal, Academic Medicine. In October 2022, the AC 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.  

What happens next

In 2023, we will: 

  • Publish AAMC admission and diversity data analyses. 

  • Launch a pilot version of a pathway program participant registry so that pathway programs can follow the academic and career trajectories of their program alumni.

  • Kick-off a partnership with The Steve Fund to develop resources that will help medical schools better support the mental health and wellness of students underrepresented in medicine. 

  • Convene subject matter experts from multiple sectors to better understand the impact and influence of K12 educators in building a diverse, prepared healthcare workforce.  

  • Pilot the first module of the premedical advising training. 

  • Facilitate roundtables on specific systems factors identified by the AC and attendees of the Strategy Summit. 

  • Continue to gather perspectives from the participants of the Council of Deans Insight Circle to work toward the development of a leadership accountability framework. 

Ways to get involved

  • Join the Pathway Programs Virtual Community by emailing abarrios@aamc.org.  

  • Join the Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine Virtual Community by completing this intake form.