BronxTalk – Diversity in Medicine

Doctors from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Health System: (L-R) Dr. Andre Bryan, Dr. Dahlia Townsend, Dr. Michelle Ng Gong, (photo courtesy of AECOM)


This week’s BronxTalk on BronxNet takes a look at the lack of diversity in medicine and how it affects care, especially during this time of pandemic when quality medical care is literally a matter of life or death.

According to the Associated Medical Schools of NY (AMSNY), today there are as few Black men in medicine as there were in the 1970s and In New York State, between 2011 and 2015, Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos were approximately 31% of the population, yet only 12% of the physician workforce.

Jo Wiederhorn, President & CEO of the AMSNY talked with host Gary Axelbank about their study Addressing the Challenges of a Diverse Physician Workforce that sheds light on health disparities, barriers to diversifying the physician workforce, as well as the gap in physician diversity and how it contributes to the gross health disparities faced by people of color which have been magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Also Nilda Soto, Assistant Dean for Diversity Enhancement at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, reviewed their on-going scholastic programs in city schools designed to inspire young people of color to enter the field of medicine. 

Crain’s New York: Letter to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Prioritize diversity among doctors

June 30, 2020 01:19 PM

Getty Images: 
Medical workers take in patients at a special coronavirus intake area at Maimonides Medical Center on April 07, 2020 in Brooklyn.

To the editor:

We were glad to see the editorial board’s statement that “It’s essential for NY to acknowledge bias in health care.”

As Covid-19 brings a renewed focus on addressing health disparities, we urge policymakers to include efforts to increase diversity among doctors as a key tool in this effort. 

Research on health disparities has found evidence of improved treatment and prevention when patients are seen by a racially concordant doctor or a doctor from a similar racial background.

Additionally, doctors from underrepresented backgrounds are more likely to work in primary care and in medically underserved areas, where there are physician shortages and decreased access to care.

Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough diverse doctors to meet the needs of diverse patients. Here in New York state, only 12% of the physician workforce is Black or Latinx, compared with 31% of the population.

In order to increase diversity among doctors, we must address the systemic barriers to medical school, including financial barriers, alongside the lack of access to mentorship and guidance during high school or undergraduate studies.

Publicly-funded pipeline programs and scholarships for students from underrepresented backgrounds are successful in supporting aspiring doctors to become physicians but have shrunk over the years instead of expanding to meet the need. The pandemic has shown us we can’t wait any longer to prioritize diversity among doctors.

Jo Wiederhorn
President and CEO
The Associated Medical Schools of New York

Statement from AMSNY:

The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY)—the consortium of all 17 medical schools in the state—joins with many across the country in mourning Black lives lost to police violence, and we stand in solidarity with those expressing outrage and sorrow through protest.

The problems of systemic racism in America are far reaching and extend well beyond policing. You can see it clearly in our health care settings. There are as few Black men in medicine today as there were in the 1970s.  The gap in physician diversity contributes to the gross health disparities faced by people of color in America – disparities magnified by the pandemic.

We are aware of the extra obstacles Black students, faculty and researchers are asked to overcome in pursuing their education and careers. It’s why we run pipeline programs to support students who are from racial, ethnic and cultural groups that are underrepresented in medicine. Our programs provide academic support and mentoring for students starting in middle school and continuing until entry into medical school, with a scholarship program to further support medical students. It’s why we convene representatives from NY medical schools to discuss ways to better prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion and from that, develop actionable solutions.  It is clear that we all can and must do more to combat institutional racism in our country. 

We recognize there is much more work to be done in our sector and will continue looking for additional ways to support Black students and faculty in the weeks, months, and years ahead. As we move forward, we are committed to listening and learning, and we welcome feedback and ideas. And we will continue to speak out about these issues and advocate for change.

Please reach out to if you would like to share your thoughts with us.

WBAI Radio Pacifica: Coronavirus Diary

New York is the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the planet. The battle against the virus has profoundly changed Americans’ way of life. For some, it means death. WBAI’s Celeste Katz Marston is collecting the stories of New Yorkers fighting their way through the storm.

Dr. Rafael Hernandez shares his experience of going straight from medical school to caring for Covid-19 patients as a junior physician at a New York hospital. 

Bronx News 12: Meet Mindy Baucicot: From medical school to the front lines of COVID-19

As the fight against the coronavirus continues, medical students have been stepping up to the front lines – heroes making their way from a virtual graduation straight into hospitals.

News 12’s Sabrina Franza spoke with Mindy Baucicot, who graduated from Stony Brook University last week.

“For every patient that leaves, being rolled out to be transported home, we are literally on the floors clapping,” she told News 12.

Baucicot hopes to be an OBGYN when the pandemic is over. 

AMSNY Report: Black and Hispanic Students Face Multiple Barriers to Becoming Doctors

Monday, March 2, 2020
Media Contact: Erin Clarke, (347) 831-1096, Jaime Williams, (347) 361-7183

AMSNY Report: Black and Hispanic Students Face Multiple Barriers to Becoming Doctors 

Report from the Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) identifies key leaks in the pipeline for aspiring underrepresented doctors and offers recommendations to increase diversity in medicine

Best practices include funding post-baccalaureate programs and scholarships for underrepresented students like those run by AMSNY

(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), the consortium of the state’s 17 medical schools, released a report today entitled Addressing the Challenges to a Diverse Physician Workforce. The report details the barriers that prevent students who are underrepresented in medicine (URIM) from becoming doctors and presents recommendations to address leaks in the last stages of the pipeline – from college to medical school – for aspiring physicians.

Nationally there is a critical need to increase the number of medical students from underrepresented backgrounds (Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American). A survey of U.S. medical schools found that 72% of applicants in the 2018-2019 academic year identified as White or Asian, while only 13.3% identified as Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino. In New York State, between 2011 and 2015, Blacks/African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos were approximately 31% of the population, yet only 12% of the physician workforce.

“The need for physicians who are of the same racial or ethnic background as their patients is a priority as our communities continue to diversify,” said Jo Wiederhorn, President and CEO of AMSNY. “Studies show that when patients see physicians who are similar to themselves, they are more likely to seek out preventative care, spend longer time with their doctors and report higher satisfaction of care received. These are the keys to reducing health disparities.”

URIM students face myriad barriers to becoming doctors, such as the high cost of applying to medical school and a lack of guidance and preparation during their undergraduate experience. Studies show that subsequently, underrepresented students lose interest in pre-med academic paths after the first two years of college at higher rates than their White and Asian colleagues.

The AMSNY report found barriers for underrepresented students include:

  • First-generation students having to navigate undergraduate degrees on their own, without guidance from parents with firsthand knowledge of how the system works.
  • Receiving improper guidance and advice from college counselors about applying to medical school.
  • Having to work to pay tuition and/or provide support to their families, interfering with time dedicated to school and affecting grades and graduation rates. Only 11% of low-income students earn bachelor’s degrees within six years.
  • High costs associated with applying to medical school, including MCAT prep courses, which are necessary for all test-takers. Studies show Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students score significantly lower on the MCAT.
  • The high cost of applications, travel to interviews, professional attire and more, adding up to nearly $10,000 or more.

The report provides recommendations to address the barriers underrepresented students face getting into medical school.

  • Mentoring/Peer Groups are linked to higher retention of students in STEM, research-related career paths and higher education. 
  • Application Preparatory Classes provide underrepresented students – some  of whom are the first in their families to navigate the medical school application process – with prep courses and personalized advising.
  • Direct Medical and Early Assurance Programs give students the opportunity to enter medical school upon completion of high school or after two years in college. These programs allow students to fully commit their efforts to becoming doctors, giving them peace of mind and in some instances completing both degrees in a shorter time, reducing the cost of tuition.
  • Post-Baccalaureate Programs focused on URIM students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds offer mentorship from faculty and staff who develop individualized educational plans over one- to two-year programs to strengthen students’ applications. Students receive formal mentoring, advising, financial assistance and tailored curricula.
  • Tuition Scholarships reduce financial stress so students can focus on their education. Research shows students who have sufficient funds for college have higher academic performance.

“With increased investment in post-baccalaureate, mentorship/peer programs and scholarships, URIM students can overcome the many barriers that exist on the path of becoming physicians. By investing in pipeline programs, states can increase primary care physicians, reduce health disparities among ethnic groups, and ultimately decrease health expenditures,” said Wiederhorn. “In New York State, we have a strong track record of state-funded post-baccalaureate programs and scholarships, yet these programs are consistently subjected to cuts when the research indicates they should in fact be expanded.”

The AMSNY Diversity in Medicine Program, funded by the New York State Department of Health, has helped more than 500 underrepresented in medicine students become doctors, the majority of whom are more likely to practice primary care, practice in underserved communities and stay in New York State after their education. A scholarship for graduates of AMSNY’s programs, funded by the state legislature, helps alleviate financial barriers for 10 underrepresented students each year who commit to practicing in underserved areas in New York State. 

After 29 years, AMSNY’s diversity in medicine program faced elimination in the Proposed FY2021 executive budget but was restored in budget amendments.

“We thank Governor Cuomo for restoring funding to the highly successful Diversity in Medicine program and making sure that this pathway for aspiring doctors endures,” continued Wiederhorn. “We are also immensely grateful to the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, especially Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assemblymember Michael Blake and Senator Jamaal Bailey for their tireless efforts in advocating for this program.” 


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is the consortium of the 17 public and private medical schools in New York State. AMSNY works in partnership with its members to advance biomedical research, diversity in medical school and the physician workforce and high quality and cost-efficient care. The combined total of New York’s medical schools economic impact equals more than $85.6 billion. This means $1 in every $13 in the New York economy is related to AMSNY medical schools and their primary hospital affiliates. For more information on AMSNY, please visit: