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Medicine Needs a Workforce That Better Represents the Population

The Diversity in Medicine report by the Association of American Medical Colleges said, 5.8% of Physicians in 2018 identified themselves as Hispanic and 5% identified as African American. These proportions are an underrepresentation of the national makeup of the U.S., since in 2019 Hispanics/Latinx and African Americans made up an estimated 18.3% and 13.4% of the population, respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Increasing the proportion of underrepresented minorities in the medical workforce is an important step in addressing long-standing injustices in medicine.

“Institutions need to be actively seeking opportunities to support URM (underrepresented minority) students, to check in on their wellness and to be the ones who do the majority of the work in diversifying the physician workforce,” says Paloma Marin-Nevarez, a fourth-year medical student at Stanford University School of Medicine and an incoming first-year resident in the University of California- San Francisco Fresno Emergency Medicine program.

Briana Christophers, a student in the Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program at the Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University, Paloma Marin-Nevarez, and Dr. Adewole “Ade” Adamson share three tips for underrepresented minority premed students to increase their chance of matriculating into med school and create a lasting impact for their future patients.

  • Find role models.
  • Prepare for injustice.
  • Advocate for yourself.

To those who have their doubts, Dr. Adewole Adamson offers assurance. “You are enough. If medicine is something that you’re determined to pursue, know that your future patients and future generation of physicians will depend on you.”

Students from underrepresented backgrounds will encounter numerous challenges not faced by other medical school applicants. However, society needs these physicians, now more than ever, in order to realize a more equitable health care system for all.

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