Sunday, April 9, 2017

Medical school affirmative action helps reduce racial health disparities

Jack Siglin
April 6, 2017

Health — that thing we take for granted but probably shouldn't — is vitally important. Like so many other things, though, it isn't distributed equitably. Race and socioeconomic status have a lot of predictive power when it comes to peoples' health. Some of the explanation stems from an unlikely place — U.S. physician population demographics.

Let's start with some facts. Medical school graduates from 1978 to 2008 — a good approximation of the U.S. physician workforce — are about 75 percent white, 13 percent Asian, 5 percent Latino and 6 percent black. The U.S. as a whole is about 77 percent white, 6 percent Asian, 18 percent Latino and 14 percent black. Another way to frame the data: About 18 out of every 100 who matriculate at medical school identify as students of color. That's far less than the general proportion of the population.

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