Crain’s New York: State med schools report record-high diversity

October 29, 2021 11:31 AM
Medical school

More than 21% of first-year students last year at medical schools in the state were from diverse backgrounds, according to a new report by the Associated Medical Schools of New York.

The consortium, a nonprofit that represents the state’s 17 public and private medical schools, said it was the first time the rate exceeded 20% since it has been tracked.

The statistic captures the share of medical students who come from groups underrepresented in medicine, meaning they identify as American Indian or Alaskan native, Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, or a combination.

“Twenty percent is worth celebrating, as long as we acknowledge that we have a way to go,” said Jo Wiederhorn, the consortium’s president and CEO. “Diversity in medicine is important because we know patients have better health outcomes when they see doctors from their own background.”

More than 11,000 students were enrolled at a medical school in the state during the 2020–2021 year, including about 2,600 first-year students. Of those, 8% identify as Black or African American, 7.5% identify as Hispanic or Latino, and 7.3% identify as two or more ethnicities or races, the enrollment report found.

The consortium said many aspiring physicians from marginalized communities face significant hurdles including the thousands of dollars it takes to apply to medical school, a lack of exposure to faculty mentors from similar backgrounds, and imposter syndrome.