AARON DILLARD: Welcome everyone to the “Beyond the White Coat” podcast. On today's episode, we're furthering our discussion on race-conscious admissions, a complex and important topic within higher education. In Part 2 of our discussion, we will explore the social and advisory impacts surrounding the use of race as a factor in college and graduate school admissions.
We hope you enjoy our conversation as we delve into the multifaceted dimensions of this practice and its impact on creating a more equitable and diverse educational landscape. Facilitating our discussion today is our illustrious host, Dr. David Skorton, president and CEO of AAMC, which represents the nation's medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems, and academic societies. David began his leadership of AAMC in July of 2019 after a distinguished career in government, higher education, and medicine. And in his first year at the AAMC, he addressed social issues that affect health, guided us through a global pandemic and built a multiyear strategic plan to tackle the nation's most intractable challenges in health and health care, working to make academic medicine more diverse, equitable and inclusive. Welcome David, thank you so much for hosting today.
Joining David today are two wonderful guests. First, Dr. Joon Kim. He's the senior director and instructor of post-baccalaureate programs. at Keck Graduate Institute. And in his role, Dr. Kim advises students and coordinates the program's activities, events, and visiting lectures. Prior to arriving at KGI, Dr. Kim served as an assistant director in the Office of Academic Advising at the University of Southern California. This past September 2022, Dr. Kim was named president-elect of NAAHP, National Association of Advisors of Health Professions. He holds a BA in psychology from UCLA. and an MEd in higher education and an EdD in educational leadership with a concentration in educational psychology from USC. Welcome Dr. Kim. Thank you so much for joining us today.
And last but ertainly not least, Kyra Tyler, senior director of educational consulting at Bright Horizons College Coach. There she engages with thousands of families to support their navigation of college admissions process, focusing on curriculum, planning, and understanding the college essay amongst other things. Prior to working at College Coach, Kyra began in admissions at Brandeis University, where she spearheaded the school's student of color recruitment effort. Kyra holds a bachelor of music in flute performance from Northwestern University and a master of education in higher education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education.
Welcome Kyra, welcome Dr. Kim, David. As I kick it over to you, how do you feel having a fellow Northwestern flutist on today's episode?
SKORTON: Well, thanks, Aaron. I feel intimidated because Kyra has a degree in flute performance, and my flute performance has garnered me a lot of critiques from people I admire, such as: keep your day job, keep practicing, don't give up yet. So, I'm a little intimidated, but it's such a pleasure to have a fellow alum here. Well, thanks a lot.
KYRA TYLER: Yeah. Same.
SKORTON: Kyra and Joon, it's fabulous to have you here. And I have a little way I want to start this off and ask you whether you sort of buy this set of assertions or not. I follow the literature about the effects of diversity in a wide variety of settings for decades. And this is not a political statement. This is not a statement that has to do really with any judicial decision, we'll get to that later, or anything else, but I've been impressed for a very long time that in any setting you want to consider, whether it's a team trying to make a decision, whether it's peer-to-peer learning in educational setting, far before medical school, or any other setting, diversity just works. Diversity just works. It brings better decisions. It brings more full peer-to-peer learning, more three-dimensional peer-to-peer learning. And in health care, it brings better health, not only to disadvantaged populations, but to everyone. So I want to ask you first whether you accept or not the idea that diversity just works every which way you look at it and everywhere that you look at it. Because I want to get into critiques of diversity. And first I want to just get a feel from two people who are expert in areas that I am not expert. So, Kyra, could we start with you?
TYLER: Sure, yeah, I enthusiastically agree that diversity is paramount in all of those settings that you named, David, but from my perspective, certainly educational circles. You know, my high school students are often telling me that’s what they’re — one of the things they're most looking forward to when they go to college. And certainly, as a flute performance major, I was absolutely a minority within my group. But I think that all of my colleagues would agree that they benefited from my perspective that they wouldn't have gotten otherwise. And certainly within the classical musical field, I can't say that enough. So I would agree, in all aspects, an enthusiastic yes.
SKORTON: Thank you, Kyra. Joon, what's your take on this?
KIM: Yeah, I think diversity is one of those things that, it would be hard — We would be hard pressed to find examples where it would actually be a negative. Diversity in every way that I — when you were speaking, David, I thought of even the meals that I eat. I don’t want to eat my favorite meal every day. Now, that's a very more practical, but in terms of the dynamics of groups and teams, we know that diversity is absolutely central. Every team sport that I grew up watching, playing, relies heavily on the differences and the talents and the different strengths — In other words, the diversity is what directly leads to the success for everyone. I think that's the key part that I think we always need to remind ourselves, that diversity benefits everyone.
SKORTON: Well thanks, Kyra and Joon, and the reason I asked you that, and actually the reason we're having this wonderful discussion today — and so thrilled to have you here — I'll share my perspective on it real quick if you don't mind a quick personal story. So, the year of my first faculty appointment, which is in 1979-80, at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, that year of all of the students in MD-granting medical schools in the U.S., all four years — 3.1% were Black men, 1979-1980. Last year's data that we collect, that's 2022-2023, the percentage: 3.1%. So, 42 years of my career so far, in that one demographic, in that one demographic, we have made no progress. We made some progress in other demographics. And in others, you know, very, very little such, Indigenous groups, for example. So, you know, taking a trip back to those days of yesteryear, the concept of equal opportunity and race-conscious admissions came up. And you both have expertise in areas that I don't have any expertise in, and that is really earlier in the educational pathway. And by the nature of what you both do, looking way earlier in the pathway, which is where I think we need to look if we're really going to make a difference going forward. So, I'd love to hear from both of you about your thoughts about that concept of equal opportunity and where race-conscious admissions sort of came from. Where did this concept come from? It's not something that we just dreamed up a few years ago. And Joon, would you want to kick that one off?
KIM: Sure. Just to give a little context, you know, I've been very fortunate that in my 23 years of experience in education, it's been a mix. I mean, it's been the vast majority — 20 of it has been higher education. But, for three years, I spent in middle school and high school. So, from that perspective, I think this is where, you know, we clearly recognize the value and importance of the diversity. But like you mentioned, we need to go earlier. It doesn't just happen overnight. It starts at a very young age. There's plenty of literature to show how incredibly influential early childhood education is on the future. So, while we sometimes get so focused near the end, if you will — So for example, like a sporting event, perhaps one player missed a free throw and that led to the loss for the team. In actuality, it wasn’t just that player. We got to go much further and look at the entire game. And so, it's almost a availability heuristic where our brains just immediately jump to what's most proximal. And so, I absolutely saw the differences. I mean, we all know that depending on where you live is highly correlated with the quality of the early education you're going to receive. So that's been my experience and observation.
SKORTON: Thanks, Joon. And Kyra, your work is so exemplary and really is relevant to this. I'm very, very interested in your wisdom on this. Any thoughts please.
TYLER: Yeah, in the work that I do, obviously, and when I did my work prior as an admission officer at Brandeis, it really spoke to me the way that education plays a role in later success, right? And that the more that we can expose people to diverse perspectives, it's not necessarily to change their mind all the time, but certainly exposure and an understanding of someone else's circumstance and plight and joys and successes, you know, benefits everyone. In my current role, the majority of my students are high school aged. I spend my days with teenagers and they're pretty great. And I think they are so savvy, partially because those that aren't — they don't have the opportunity to experience diversity live. They have technology in a way that we never had, right? Like if someone wasn't next door to me or in my classroom, then I didn't know their —
SKORTON: Right, right.
TYLER: — perspective because we didn’t have that. And so, I think in some ways, like it has made them hungry for that, as they would say, IRL, in real life to see sometimes what they are able to experience virtually. They want to experience in their educational perspective. I currently serve on my community's public school board and I was the president for four years. I'm out of that role as of May. And so, I think of it even like way before that, like Joon said, for early education, my town we have a free preschool that starts at three. And that’s not too late, but that’s like, not too early either. So, I think better exposure to diversity absolutely helps us get to more equitable education. We don't always want equal, right? We want equitable, so.
SKORTON: Thank you, Kyra. Thank you for making me even more hip than I already am if you can imagine that. IRL, wow, now I know about IRL. I'm going to start dropping that like everywhere I go.
TYLER: Feel free to take it.
SKORTON: So, thank you for that. OK, all right. I'll give you all the credit.
Well, here we are just a short time after the Supreme Court of the United States made a decision in higher education to take away the use of race as one factor among many in that narrow part that is higher education admission. Of course, the reason we’re doing this at a podcast coming from the Association of American Medical Colleges is that we’re very concerned, I’m very concerned, that that’s going to have a negative effect on the public health. Why? Because as you both mentioned, there’s a lot of data and research on the benefits of diversity and all kinds of teams, and that’s also true for health care, it’s true for the education in medical school, it’s true for the education of those who are gonna do research — that research teams do better when they’re diverse.
So here we are. And that decision took that one factor away from us, but nothing in that decision took away from us the goal of diversifying the population in school or in the health care field as a subset. And nothing in there told us that we can't have a goal of diversity in our mission statements, but it's how we get there. So, I'd love to have your personal reactions, personal or professional, either or both, how you felt and how you feel now in this really quite new environment. Now those of you who are in states like Joon, where there's been a ban since ‘96 I guess roughly, have already been in an environment sort of like that, but now we're in a national environment.
Kyra, if you could start, what was your reaction with the court's decision? What are you thinking now about this new world we're living in?
TYLER: Yeah, so, you know, my reaction initially was, OK, it's happened. I think most of us who do this, who are adjacent to this kind of work, had been preparing for it. What I found was that the reality hit me emotionally in a way that I was surprised by. It's one thing to say yes or no, right? To have a finite decision, it's a totally different animal to read people's reasoning and arguments for or against. And I will say, I think that — not I think — I know that is what made me feel really upset, to be honest. Because to read the statements from the justices about why they don't believe that race-conscious admissions is necessary anymore. You know, David, you just gave a stat over a 40-plus year period, and it's like stagnant or a 10th of a percent lower, right? So, like, clearly we haven't gotten there. And so, I think to hear some of the rationale and the attempt to explain their rationale was pretty upsetting.
Where I am now, is I’m a problem solver. And so, what does this mean for my students moving forward is the way that I have really been thinking about it, myself and my team. And where we have landed is that I will say that I still am in tune with the admission community and I know that they are, they are wanting a diverse class, right? So, everybody is still on that wavelength. And I think they're just going to try to be a little savvier about how to achieve that. My worry, and you know, I live in a state that I'm a native Chicagoan, native Illinoisan. I'm happy to be here. And, you know, so I haven't lived through what California has lived through, but certainly being almost next door to Michigan, watching them try to figure this out, I will say I know that the mountain is very high. It's a heavy lift that takes a fair amount of resources and time and buy-in. And I think my concern is like, will people have the appetite equally to be able to invest resources to continue to aim for diversity? Which I think we all believe is still important to higher education.
SKORTON: Kyra, thank you. That was such a beautifully stated evolution of sort of a part of your emotional journey since the day of the decision. And I tend to be an optimist and try to be a problem solver. And you all are very exemplary in that way. And as I read the decision, I saw evidence that there was an appreciation of the importance of diversity, but they want us to achieve it in ways that are different than, than we did before. And so, we have to move forward. I'm the farthest thing in the world from a legal expert. But I think that we have to, obviously, want to, follow the law, stay within the dictates of the court, but still achieve this mission that we believe there's so much evidence to bring us in the direction of. So Joon, what are your thoughts since the decision?
KIM: Yeah, yeah, you took the words right out of my mouth. I think that's how I interpreted the decision. It wasn't a strike down of diversity itself. It was in how we get there. And so, I'm also a very strong optimist. And so, what I, my reaction was, okay, this just means that we need to be creative. We need to approach this in almost a diverse approach to get to the goal of diversity. And you're absolutely right, David. You know, California, we have banned affirmative action back in, I believe it was ‘96, I think you're right. And we just have to find different ways. And I think that's one of the things that makes education just amazingly what it is. It's problem solving, you know. I think for our learners today, it's changed so much. Education isn't about just knowledge acquisition. Because any student with a phone has all the knowledge that they need right at their fingertips. So, we really need to go towards problem solving. And oftentimes things that seem very easy, simple fixes turn out to be ironically the most difficult. And so, I share in your concerns.
However, I'm very hopeful that we will find other ways to achieve it. And even towards that end, I think about the phrase, pursuit of excellence. I don't think we ever achieve, and get, and arrive at excellence and say, OK, we're here, we're done. It truly is the pursuit and the process. And that is an advice that I share with all my students that, you know, when you are “going into medicine,” there isn't going to be this point that you achieve and say, well, I'm done. I'm going to call it a day. It is a practice. You're continuously learning, learning from your mistakes. And so, towards that end, I almost see this, this process of achieving diversity in a very parallel way where we're never going to get to this point where we say, oh, we've achieved it. We've achieved perfect parity. We can now say a mission accomplished. It is this process. And I think that process, and I'm very hopeful, is what will draw all of us together. Maybe that's just wishful thinking, but you know, someone's got to do it. And so, I'm going to do that.
SKORTON: I think it’s cool. I think you're both very uplifting. I'm just learning from you. I'm loving hearing this stuff. But now let's take a look at some of the criticisms that have been leveled against things like race-conscious admissions, because we have to pay attention to all the folks we interact with. Not everybody agrees with me anyway. And so, what about people who say that race-conscious admissions perpetuates stereotypes? That it causes discrimination against other groups and I'm sure you've heard a lot about this. Joon and then Kyra if we can go in that order, what's your take on that because it's a big country, complicated country, a lot of people with a lot of different opinions and I do hear those two things. I'm curious what your thoughts are both about maintaining and perpetuating stereotypes on the one hand. And then, causing some sort of discrimination in another direction that we also don't want. Joon?
KIM: So, stereotypes exist. We know they exist and they exist for a reason. That there's a little, just enough of a truthism for it to continue to exist. I mean, if it was completely false, then it would cease to exist. But with all of that said, so I mean, I think this is one of those things where we have to ask ourselves, OK, what is the goal? Because I think that's the part where it's easiest to arrive at a common ground. But how do we achieve that? And I think that's where we run into a lot of challenges because many of us look at education, at least higher education, for that matter even K through 12, as a closed system, but especially so in higher education. Because when a seat is allocated for a particular applicant, that's one less seat available for other applicants. And so, I think there's this, you know, an environment where unfortunately competition seems to be the profound message. I mean, we already know that very often having worked with some of the high school students that are getting ready for college, they are focused on the acceptance rates. And that's, some of it is just human nature. You know, we all want to go to a school that's highly selective — 12% acceptance rate. No one wants to go to the college that has 100% acceptance rate. And so, I think we need to work on shifting our focus and then also looking at, you know, why are we so set on — Because, you know, one of the things that I was astonished to learn is how many choices — I was not born in the U.S. As an immigrant when I came to this country and realized there's over 3,000 colleges and universities. That's insane. That's more options than toothpaste or any other personal commercial product. That's a lot of choices. But yet, I think for many students and families, we tend to focus on a few because we do have ourselves convinced that the opportunities are different depending on where, which colleges you go to. So, I think if we can really highlight and build up and help students and families to understand those opportunities. They’re there for the taking. I just, you know, one of the things I absolutely believe is to empower our students to go from a recipient of their education to be an active participant. So, I hope I answered your question somewhere in there. It’s just, everything is so interconnected. And when we’re talking about this topic, so —
SKORTON: Yeah, super helpful. Kyra, how about your thoughts on some of these negative aspects that we hear about the sort of negative side of race-conscious admissions?
TYLER: Sure. I mean, there are people in my own extended family who would say, you know, that it stereotypes — I'll share my own experience as a Black person. It stereotypes Black people into, you know, people believing that they're not there for the right reason. And I, that is like a little hot button for me because people have said that to me.
You know, you will appreciate this, David, as a fellow musician. I went to Interlochen Arts Camp when I was in middle school for three summers. I loved it. It's my, it continues to be my happy place. I mean, I was told there — I was 13 years old, excited to be away in a cabin, living my dream, like playing great orchestra music, getting to the finals of a concerto contest — and still people were like, well, you're only in that because you're Black. And I'm like, you've got to be kidding me. I mean, of all the choices, clearly that is absolutely not it. And that is something that has sort of like followed me throughout my career. As Joon said, people clamoring for these very selective universities, that's my whole job, right? I mean, I have degrees from those places that people really want them from.
But I only believe that those stereotypes exist if you believe in them. I don't believe in them. I know my excellence. I know, the people who look like me, their excellence as well. And I think it shows not only in the classroom and they’re — you know, I mean, I’ve read their files. These kids are smart. They've earned their spot. And I think it's also, it is a little insulting too when it's like you can look at the data. If we look at the data at MIT, it's like 40% Asian American. Like, I am not taking up your spot. There's like under 8% African American. I'm not taking up your spot. You shouldn't have to worry about me. So, I think there's data that points this out, that people aren't there just to fill a quota or what. And the stereotypes, I don't believe are true because if the stereotypes applied to just me, I could apply them to other people in terms of why they're also there. And so, I just, I really don't believe in that.
I will say something just in response to a point Joon made, and It's a good one. My job is, it's expectation setting to some extent, right? It's helping people understand —
SKORTON: Sure. Right.
TYLER: — the educational experience that they want to have and trying to match that up with acceptable places that they'll feel good about attending, right? Many people do want to attend a school that denies more people than it accepts. It's like people clamoring for a Birkin bag or a Gucci flat, or something like that. Like it's out of your reach and you want it so bad and then you work for it and you, like it's that sort of psychology, right? You want what is out of reach for most. But what I will say is that, and so that doesn't work for most people, right? There are not enough seats for all of the qualified people. The one thing that I will say though is that we do know that for certain ethnic and racial groups attending a school like a Cornell or Northwestern or USC or Stanford does yield itself with higher earnings, better career potential for Black students, Indigenous students. So, there is evidence that supports, for better or for worse. They do get a beautiful effect in a way that maybe doesn't come with White students in the same way. So, I don't want to pretend like there isn't something different there for some people, because there is. Um, right or wrong, there is. So, but, I don't buy the stereotypes.
SKORTON: It's such wisdom and you know what I worry about in these kinds of stereotyping things is that it feeds into what already occurs that is imposter syndrome. That a lot of folks, I come from a family where there was no doctors and nobody finished the college degree in my family before I did anything like that. And I had imposter syndrome like crazy. And I still do at times. I'm glad to admit that publicly. But I can't imagine all the privilege and advantages that I have. Can't imagine the severity of imposter syndrome and how that must be made worse if someone's saying, hey, you know, [you] really don't belong there. You're just there because of A or B or C.
When a lot of these individuals, people I know, have already told me, hey, I'm trying to keep my emotional head above water to think about myself as being able to, to get there and setting expectations that you both have talked about and alluded to. There's a lot of research in education to show that if you expect more of someone, they will eventually expect more of themselves and they'll achieve more. And so, it's beautiful that people like you are actually getting it done, getting it done. We're the beneficiaries in medical schools because if you don't get it done at those levels and going way back in the pathway, we're definitely not going to solve these problems, you know, in the third or fourth year of college, at least I don't think so. So that's super helpful.
Now, thinking about going forward now and sort of the long-term impact of the things that we're wanting to do, and let's just be positive and say that because of the optimism and strength of character of people like you and a lot of folks standing behind you, so to speak, that we do make progress — different ways of doing it. Next time someone my age talks about what the trajectory has been, it'll look better. And it does look better for some demographics, but in my view, just not better enough. So, what do you see as the pathway forward that we can get to a point where we can look back in a conversation like this, say five or 10 years from now and say, you know, wow, we actually started to make some progress. Give us a little bit of a look at what we could be thinking about, because I need that optimism. I need that wisdom. I need that view toward the future. And Kyra, can we start with you?
TYLER: Yeah, my colleagues will be, or not my colleagues, my family will be so amused to find that I'm so positive and sunny about this. Because sometimes I'm a burn it all down kind of person. I'm coming around and here, I mean, you know, I have a 13-year-old, I try to be super positive and optimistic about this for her. Because to your point, David, five to 10 years, like five years, she will be going to college, right? And I want the, I want the promise of higher education to be there for her, which is the opportunity to like meet, and be exposed, find a passion, and hopefully that turns into a career, meet lifelong friends. Like that's what I want for her. But from this angle, I would say that the path forward, and what I am telling my families, is don't make any sudden moves. Don't ask your kids to be anybody that they're not. You know, if your student is involved in, you know, some sort of racial or ethnic or cultural activity, don't tell them not to do it. They should still do it, right? For my admission colleagues who, by the way, COVID, in particular, was really hard on undergraduate admission offices in a way that I don't believe that people truly understand. There's not a lot of institutional knowledge that was maintained in the last like five to eight years. And so, this is a heavy lift for schools to now have to also think about and consider. But for those folks, I would say, all those schools that you put off visiting when, in your fall and your spring travel, all those high schools that you were like, I don't have time, they don't send kids to us: you have to go visit. That's where the kids are that you want, right? You have to — it's like campaigning, shoe leather. That's what you have to do. You have to go out there, you gotta meet people. You need to go to different college fairs, shake other people's hands, partner with CBOs. That's what I think the path forward is.
And for parents, I think the path forward is similar to what Joon said, which is what I am always trying to help people understand. There is not one way, or for those of us familiar with the Ivys, they are not one of eight schools or one of 15 schools that are gonna get you to where you wanna go. There are 3,600-plus universities and colleges out there. The overwhelming majority of them accept over 70%. See what's out there. That's my path forward.
SKORTON: I hope a lot of people will get to listen to both of you because these are very, very uplifting. Joon, your thoughts?
KIM: Yeah, so I think we have to examine different parts of the system. And so let me focus on the higher education part. I mean, only because here we are, we are talking about medical school admissions and representation, you know, what I have observed having been in this space now for almost 20 years is that mentorship is so critical to the success of our students in higher education. And for those that want to pursue health professions, I mean, it —I mean, talk about a higher bar and more maturation that's necessary because those might not appear on an MCAT® exam, but certainly a very important part for the journey.
And so, what I've observed, and this is one of my ambitious goals as president of NAAHP, is to help bring visibility and the importance, the vital role that prehealth advisors play. Because currently we have a systematic sort of weakness in our system. What I mean by that is this: when you look at the longevity of these prehealth advisors/mentors, the schools that have the students that need the most assistance and mentorship have the shortest tenure. It's a revolving door for those prehealth advisors. They come in, they're optimistic, they wanna make a difference, they work for a couple of years. They gain some experience and there's really no career progression for them. I mean, yes, you can sort of, you know, thanks to NACADA — NACADA is the professional association for academic advising — that they have, you know, established sort of a parallel path, sort of like the faculty career track where you have, you know, an assistant associate and then full professor or full advisor. But our public schools, the schools where we have those students that need the most help, those advisors are not there for a very long time. And what do we know also about students who want to apply to medical school? They're gonna need letters. They're gonna need letters from advisors that says, I've known this student for four years, three years. But if those advisors at the public universities are only there for a year or two, that's not good for them. And then on the flip side, the students who, let's say have had a lot of the advantages and resources, they attend a small, private liberal — now I don't want to just oversimplify and say it's public and private, but just as an illustration, you know — these private schools that tend to use faculty advisors and mentors, they’re a tenure-track faculty, they're not going anywhere. So, they've been there for years, they've been there for decades. So, it's more likely that they are in a position to even connect students to former students, to other alums, and so this prehealth advising is so key. And that's why I said what I said. I hope to see prehealth advising elevated, a lot of spotlight, how critical and important it is. And it's one of the reasons why I got involved with the Action Collaborative through the AAMC is that this is something where if we properly invest and focus all of our efforts, we can make a true difference. That's one place in the system. But as I had began my response, there's multiple places, but for that point, that's one place where we can really make a difference.
SKORTON: Well, I'll tell you what, you're making me more optimistic by the minute listening to you, for real, for real. And you know, eventually, from the narrower point of view of medical schools, I'm thinking about health equity. I'm thinking about the things that affect people's health. And getting them lined up at the starting line, sort of, you know, shoulder to shoulder, so to speak. And I'm thinking about poverty, thinking about racism, all these things that really, really make it hard for people to get to that starting line. I’m thinking the work that you all are doing and the folks way before medical school and way before people are used to even thinking about opportunities or possibilities for that young person and their family. We need to think about the positive effects that will happen if your ideas come through. I think it’s just terrific.
Now we're getting toward the end, and I wanted to ask before we sort of summarize, if there's things that you would want to tell folks in the medical schools. Folks in the medical schools, a message to the medical school faculty, to those who are thinking about the admissions in the medical school. It's a really great opportunity for us to be able to connect you and your wisdom and your experience with those folks in our organization out in those 157 medical schools. If you'd like to say something to those folks, what might it be? Joon, you could go first if you don't mind and then Kyra.
KIM: Sure, sure. And I work with many of these wonderful colleagues. Hats off to you. You do very important work. You already knew that. You literally influence and shape the health care workforce. And so, it's an incredible responsibility. It's a very difficult task because you're also managing just the sheer logistics. I mean, we're not exaggerating when we say medical schools receive thousands and thousands of applicants. And so, to try to sift through that, to make the best decision is an incredible undertaking. So, I definitely want to recognize that.
But with that said, I think this is where we have to try to strike this balance as best as we can. And I think when we try to use a fixed methodology, an algorithm or anything that leans slightly little more towards efficiency, because sometimes efficiency is just a euphemism to help us get the job done quicker and not necessarily qualitatively better, but certainly quantitatively get it done quicker, I think you want to definitely keep track. I think data-driven decisions, I mean, kind of goes without saying is absolutely important. And I feel like sometimes you have chosen certain practices not based on evidence or data, but maybe just through your own experiences, which again, I mean, we're all guilty of. I know I certainly make decisions in my role at work based upon my experiences. But I think this is why, again, we started this conversation from the very beginning. Diversity, diversity, diversity. So, this is where I, as the director of a program, cannot just begin and end with myself, but I would reach out to colleagues, both within our institution, as well as across the country, to get their input. So just really examine your processes, always look to improve. Don't just, you know, that's the way we've been doing it all the time.
And I would just challenge every medical school out there, because I think sometimes we in higher education have a tendency to kind of wait and see who else is doing what. Let's wait for them to test it out first and then see if it works, then we'll adopt it. But, you know, be the trailblazer. You know, excellence and being a leader is about taking risks. So, I challenge all the medical schools out there, be the best medical school you can be. I think there's a real temptation sometimes where we set another peer program or institution and we strive and try to be them. And you know, that's not authentic. Be the best version of yourself that you can be. That would be my words to the medical school colleagues.
SKORTON: Thank you so much. Kyra, from your heart and mind to the medical schools.
TYLER: Yeah. So, you know, I advise a lot of students. I'm like delighted to hear a conversation about prehealth advising. It is critical. And when I worked at Brandeis, it was obviously really important. We had really good prehealth advising. And I know, you know, in working with a broader, you know, group of students that that's not always the case. So, what I would really continue to appreciate is medical schools admitting students who have other academic interests outside of STEM, right? Like in my graduating class, probably about a quarter of them have gone on to medical school. And I love that, you know, someone whose passion is art history or something else, you know, can still with the proper coursework and preparation be a contender for med school. I really — Please continue to do that.
I would say my personal plea as someone who's given birth before is like, please continue or increase your awareness around Black maternal health. You know, it is terrifying watching, having experienced small shades of fear around being a Black woman giving birth in a hospital setting. Um, and so, you know, mine turned out just fine. I wound up having a wonderful physician, um, deliver my daughter, but, um, I — it is fearful as I think about particularly younger friends who are still in childbearing age. I have a, you know, a niece in her twenties and, you know, younger cousins. And so, to me, that's a real acute thing that I would beg, um, people to continue to consider in their medical school training and curriculum is, you know, and that I worry about with the recent ruling, right, is that we wanna continue to support, you know, understanding people's different ethnic and diverse perspectives, because it can be really critical to the care that they receive. So those would be my two things.
SKORTON: Thank you, Kyra. That's just great. And I'll put two quick plugs in for AAMC programs, and the producer and post-production will decide whether they make it. One is that we do have an initiative called Frame, FRAHME, the Fundamental Role of the Arts and Humanities in Medical Education, run by Dr. Lisa Howley. So that's right directly in that sweet spot that you talked about, Kyra. Thank you. And we also have our Center for Health Justice, run by Dr. Philip Alberti, and they have a big ongoing effort on maternal health. And so, I couldn't agree more.
Just to summarize, this has been, from my point of view, a fascinating, hugely valuable conversation. And it's good to learn from folks who have a variety of skill sets that I can learn a lot from. The value you see in diversity all the way across the board, the history of what's been going on for decades. The reaction followed up by optimism to the change that we are all living with now from the Supreme Court and the optimism and the certainty that we can move forward and that we can do better even than we did before this decision. We get to a place that we just need to be because diversity just works and so I'm hugely grateful to both of you for taking the time to be with us and asking my fabulous producer Aaron Dillard to come on and take it from here. Aaron, thank you.
DILLARD: Thank you, David. Thank you, Joon. Thank you, Kyra. We truly appreciate this fantastic follow-up conversation about the social and advisory impacts of race-conscious admissions. I learned a lot just from the perspective of both incoming college attendees as well as medical school and health professions just in general. And I do understand how important this decision is in terms of moving forward and just the progression of health in general and just the diversity of health care.
Before we wrap up the episode, we do have one last question or just one last question for the group. And it's for our segment called The Prescription for Relaxation. And then this is something to gain an insight on what you do to relax. Could be TV show, music, book, something artistic, an activity or hobby that you may have that just helps you unplug, unwind, and just regather yourself, recollect, reenergize, or as they say, refill your cup, as both of you pour into so many other people with what you do with your career. So, starting off with Kyra, what would be your prescription for relaxation currently?
TYLER: Um, well, I have a, I have a puppy and probably, you know, his little puppy paws. Um, just like spending time with my dog is a prescription for relaxation. I will also say, um, as I said before, I have a 13-year-old, she's phenomenal. She's an aspiring actress. Um, we love to sing together. We love to listen to music together.
DILLARD: Oh, wonderful. Okay.
TYLER: And I love word games. I'll brag on her a little. She went to the National Spelling Bee in June. And so, we love word stuff in our house. So, every day I will do like an online kind of word thing and yeah, makes me happy. That's it.
DILLARD: Okay, fantastic. We thank you for showing that. Joon, how about you? What's your prescription for relaxation?
KIM: Yeah, prescription for relaxation. The word relaxation makes me think that it requires little to no thought. It is just something I could go on cruise control and therefore my response would be gardening. Just being in the backyard, front yard, just digging the dirt, planting seeds, pruning, harvesting the fruit. I mean, it's — gardening has, has really helped me to relax. So that'd be my answer.
DILLARD: Mm-hmm. Okay. Okay, and is there anything in particular that you like to plant? Food, flower or otherwise?
KIM: Yes, I do love to grow dragon fruits. If you guys know what that looks like. I'm in California. So, we have the right climate for it. It looks very much like a cactus, but the fruit which flowers is only open for one day and then the flower wilts and closes. But it's a beautiful flower. And if you go to the grocery store, ask for a dragon fruit, there's many different varieties. It's beautiful, beautiful fruit. And so that's my favorite.
DILLARD: Okay. Well, thank you so much, Joon. We appreciate that. And David, how about you? What's been on? I know we just talked recently. So, if you have another or if you have an album that you've been listening to or a show that you've been into recently, what about you?
SKORTON: You know, one of my favorite — I listen to flute players, Kyra, all the time. And especially I listen to those in the Latin jazz idiom or jazz idiom because of a long story. But anyway, I've had an interest in that for a long time. And I was listening to an old album by one of my heroes named Nestor Torres. And fabulous, fabulous. And he, yesterday I was listening to a version of the song “Europa” that Santana recorded some years ago and this was an instrumental version done by a flute player. And so, I can listen to somebody who really can play the flute expertly, and I'm not talking about me because I don't get the job done, but I love to listen to that. It gives me a lot of joy to hear a woodwind player, especially a flute player, doing it the way it is. Now though, thanks to Kyra, I have a new hobby, and that is picking up hip things. Now IRL, there's gonna be no living with me because I am like Mr. Hip on things like IRL. So that's my new prescription for relaxation becoming even more hip. Over to you, Aaron.
DILLARD: Okay, thank you, David. Well, we always appreciate that. Kyra, I did have one last question for you, just based on what you said for your prescription. Do you and your daughter have a favorite song that you like to sing, or do you have a carpool karaoke moment that you — that is memorable?
TYLER: She's a Swiftie. I'm not really. So, I don't sing a lot of Taylor Swift with her, but you know, we love “Hamilton.” We love “West Side.” I have to be warmed up for Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” which if any of you know that, she modulates up the scale like five or six times. And I tap out at the end of the second one. Six, you know, so, or whatever the last one is.
DILLARD: She keeps increasing her octaves. Yeah. Yep. OK.
TYLER: Story or something. I'm gonna go.
SKORTON: Ha ha ha.
DILLARD: OK, well wonderful.
SKORTON: Hey Aaron, we gotta turn the tables on you, Mr. Producer. Aaron, what is your prescription for relaxation? Fair game.
DILLARD: I have two things. One, I love movies and TV. Right now, television-wise I actually went to go back to watch “Blackish.” I know it came out probably about a decade ago. Maybe not even that long. But it's been very interesting watching that. It's almost like a combination of "The Cosby Show” and “Family Matters,” to a degree. I don't know if I've taken it back too far. But it's just the whole family element and the just five kids and all of that. So, it's kind of my mindless TV after a long day. And then I also like to go for walks in the city since we live here in D.C. So, I walk from where I live all the way over to far Northeast and back and just helps clear my mind. So yeah, that's how I do my prescription for relaxation. So, thank you, David. I do appreciate that.
I want to thank everyone again, David, Joon, Kyra. We appreciate your patience. We appreciate you working with us to get this coordinated for today. Your contributions and feedback have been fantastic. We're just looking forward to posting this episode and just the feedback that we're gonna get from our listeners. So, thank you, thank you, thank you.
And as we conclude our discussion on race-conscience admissions, as we know, this topic will continue to raise profound questions about equity, diversity, and access to education. And by critically examining these principles, benefits, and critiques, we can, and the implications, I'm sorry, of race-conscious admissions, we can foster a far more informed and nuanced conversation as we did today about how we shape educational opportunities for all moving forward. So, thank you again. Please join us next time on the next episode of “Beyond the White Coat.” And thank you, have a great day.
[End of Audio]