Medical schools across the United States are seeing spikes in first-year Black students, according to GBH.
“We have never seen such an increase within a short amount of time,” Norma Poll-Hunter, who leads workforce diversity efforts at the Association of Medical Colleges, told reporters. A report from GBH says the number of first-year Black medical students jumped 21%, an “unprecedented spike in 2020.”
While it’s promising to see more Black people set on entering the medical field, only 5% of doctors in America are Black, according to the association’s most recent data.
Geroge Floyd‘s death, nationwide protests, and other racial issues have “really called into question this idea of a post-racial society,” Poll-Hunter says. As a result, more medical schools are addressing barriers to the application process, from waiving application fees to allowing remote interviews. More institutions are also evaluating potential biases during the admissions process.
Tufts Medical School is one of the institutions making sweeping changes to diversify their student population.
“We’ve been working hard at this,” Joyce Sackey says, Tufts’ dean for multicultural affairs and global health. “Medical schools are like the Titanic. It’s very difficult to move policies and processes, to be honest. But we are a medical school that has declared that we want to work towards becoming an anti-racist institution. This stand may have also signaled to applicants whom we accepted that maybe this is a place that they can make home.”
Sackey also pointed to financial barriers to medical school for potential students of color, arguing for more need-based scholarships rather than merit-based ones. Meanwhile, other education experts claim that medical schools need to find more ways to make earning an education less expensive.