Report: For First Time, Over 20% of New Medical School Students in New York Come From Backgrounds Underrepresented in Medicine

Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino Students, Including those who Identify as Multi-ethnic/racial, Account for 9.7% and 10.5% of First Year Students

(New York, NY) – The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY), a nonprofit organization that represents the 17 medical schools in New York State, has released its Medical School Enrollment Report for 2020-2021 and the number of first year students who are defined as underrepresented in medicine (URIM) increased by almost two points, reaching 21.1 percent. This is the first time since these statistics have been tracked that the percentage has exceeded 20 percent. 

“Twenty percent is worth celebrating, as long as we acknowledge that we have a way to go,” says President and CEO of AMSNY, Jo Wiederhorn. “Diversity in medicine is important because we know patients have better health outcomes when they see doctors from their own backgrounds.” 

Underrepresented in medicine groups make up approximately 31.1% of New York’s population but only 12.1% of the state’s physician workforce. URIM is defined as students who identify as any of these four ethnic/racial categories, either as single or multi-ethnic/racial: American Indian/Alaska Native, Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander.

According to the AMSNY report, 11,193 students were enrolled in New York State-based medical schools in the 2020-2021 school year. First year students numbered 2,589, of which 21.1 percent identified as URIM. Of those students, 8% identify as Black/ African American, 7.5% identify as Hispanic/Latino represent, and 7.3% identify as 2 or more ethnicities/races. Students who identify as Black/African American, including those who identify as multi ethnic/racial, where one of the races is Black/African American, account for 9.7%. Students who identify as Hispanic/Latino, including those who identify as multi ethnic/racial, where one of the ethnicities is Hispanic/Latino, account for 10.5%.

URIM students face significant barriers in pursuing their dreams to become doctors. Many are first-generation low-income students facing myriad financial, academic and social barriers to entering and completing college. 

“Underrepresented students often do not receive proper guidance and advising at their undergraduate institutions when deciding whether to apply to medical school and they face other barriers to entering the medical field.  Many of those barriers are being addressed through programs, but we need more,” says Dr. Gary Butts, chair of the Committee for Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and associate dean for Diversity Programs at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. 

According to a report, “Addressing the Challenges to a Diverse Physician Workforce,” published by AMSNY in 2020, the application process to get into medical school is another barrier that stops many URIM students. Medical school applicants are recommended to budget $5,000 to $15,000 for the application process alone. Those who are able to apply and are accepted can expect to graduate with $250,000 or more in student loans. Other reasons cited as barriers to URIM students getting into medical school include lack of exposure to similarly underrepresented faculty mentors and feelings of isolation and impostor syndrome.  

“This lack of representation has implications for medical care. Physicians from underrepresented minority groups are more likely to practice primary care and practice in low-income and underserved areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the dire need to address health disparities. Our programs have over a 30-year track record of doing just that,” said Wiederhorn. “AMSNY Diversity in Medicine programs, funded by the NYS Department of Health, have produced hundreds of doctors who are from underserved communities and who then practice in those same communities.”

Expanding the pipeline of URIM students entering and graduating from medical school is not a simple task and requires a multifaceted approach with significant dedicated resources. Since 1985, AMSNY has supported programs that expand the pool of students choosing careers in medicine and healthcare. 

In 1991, AMSNY launched the highly-successful post-baccalaureate program, which ensures medical school acceptance upon program completion.  The program is funded by New York State. Over 600 post-bacc participants in New York have become doctors. 

In 2017 AMSNY launched a scholarship program funded by the State Legislature. The scholarship covered the cost of tuition for 10 students. This past year, funding from the Cabrini Foundation allowed AMSNY to expand the scholarship program by 10 students. 


The Associated Medical Schools of New York (AMSNY) is a consortium of the 17      public and private medical schools throughout New York State. AMSNY’s mission is to promote high quality and cost-efficient health care by assuring that the medical schools of New York State can provide outstanding medical education, care and research. 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: