The University Network

Diversity Efforts Put More Women, Minorities In Med School

More women and minorities are being accepted into medical school, Yale University researchers find.

This positive growth was sparked by two diversity standards introduced nearly 10 years ago by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), an organization that accredits medical education programs in the U.S.

The standards made every institution capable of granting a medical degree create strategies to attract and retain female and minority students through pipeline and academic enrichment programs.

Before the standards were introduced, the number of women and minorities being accepted into medical school was on the decline. Since 2009, however, the total number and proportion of women and minorities in medical school has risen, with the largest gains for female students.

“The standards do make a difference,” Dowin Boatright, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Yale and lead author of the study, said in a statement. “It is a tool that diversity advocates didn’t have before to implement diversity programs.”

Examples of these programs include having specialized high schools prioritize exposing disadvantaged students to math and sciences, as well as requiring medical programs to accept students to undergraduate and medical schools at the same time.

The study

To measure the impact the standards had on diversity rates, the researchers collected and analyzed data on the sex, race and ethnicity of students attending medical school from 2002 to 2017.

They found that, since the implementation of the standards in 2009, the percentage of female, black and Hispanic medical students gradually increased.

In the future, the researchers want to evaluate strategies at individual medical schools.

“The next step in research is to determine how individual schools are approaching the challenge of increasing diversity, and identifying best practices,” Boatright said in a statement.

A paper describing the full study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Diversity in STEM

This push to include more women and minorities in medicine reflects the widespread effort to increase diversity in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Every day, women and minorities are leading incredible STEM research, but they are still significantly underrepresented in their fields.

Nationwide efforts have sprung up to change that. And this study, which is a concrete example of a successful diversity initiative, should give hope to everyone working to bring more women and minorities into the STEM arena.