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Trends in Racial and Ethnic Minority Applicants and Matriculants to U.S. Medical Schools, 1980-2016

Increasing diversity in the physician workforce is a key strategy for addressing public health needs, and it is important to consider in efforts to address physician shortages. Predicted workforce challenges are further complicated by the persistent health inequities and health care disparities disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minority communities and low-income households. There have been significant efforts to increase diversity in medicine, given its benefits on multiple levels; however,  medical school admissions leaders report numerous challenges to recruiting diverse talent.  In this Analysis in Brief, the authors examine demographic trends in medical student applicants and matriculants, as well as acceptance rates since 1980, with a focus on the representation of individuals who identify as black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native. Results show that increases in black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, and American Indian or Alaska Native applicants since 1980 have not kept pace with gains in bachelor’s degrees awarded and lag behind rates for non-URM groups. This trend has occurred even as available matriculant slots have increased by more than one-quarter over this same period. Similarly, results show only slight increases in underrepresented minority matriculant rates over time.  Together, these results suggest that there is a continued need to develop and sustain programs that support attracting diverse talent to U.S. medical schools, as increasing diversity will improve the quality of medical education and health care for all.

Supplemental Information

No supplemental information for this edition of Analysis in Brief.

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