How this New York medical school boosted diversity by 45%
Eliminating the burden of medical student loans for future physicians in financial need may create a more diverse medical school applicant pool, student body and healthcare workforce, according to a JAMA Health Forum article examining the impact of efforts at a New York medical school.
The article, “Debt-Free Medical Education: A Tool for the Diversity of the Health Workforce“, examines Weill Cornell Medicine’s commitment to debt relief from medical education, which began in 2019, and the early results it has produced.
To understand the impact of this program on the new class of 2024, Weill Cornell compared medical student applicants and registrants in 2020 with those of the previous 4 years (2016-2019). In 2020 – the first full admissions cycle in which the program was in place – applications from Weill Cornell Medical College increased by 11%. “Among enrolled students, we observed statistically significant increases in the percentage of students from under-represented groups in medicine (from 20% to 29%),” the authors wrote, Yoon Kang, MD, and Said A. Ibrahim, MD, MPH, both of Weill Cornell Medicine.This equates to a 45% increase.
Cornell’s program is funded by an initial endowment of $ 160 million. The article points out that additional funding will be required to keep the program intact in perpetuity.
The program’s goal of eliminating the burden of medical student loans is ambitious. According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges cited in the article, three in four medical school graduates in 2019 were in debt. Median education debt – including application fees, fees for testing and test preparation, and expenses for professional dress and travel to medical school and residency interviews – was $ 200,000, and those numbers were more intimidating for some under-represented groups, the article noting that “not only did a higher proportion of black students graduate with debt (91% of black students vs. 73% of all students), but the median debt was higher ($ 230,000 for black students versus $ 200,000 for all students) “.
Cornell’s program aims to provide all participants with a debt-free education. While many schools have offered full scholarships to underrepresented students, Cornell’s Debt Free Program goes one step further by including tuition – tuition and living expenses, such as housing and living expenses. Health Insurance. A survey of students entering medical school indicated that they were familiar with the program and considered it a factor in their decision to apply.
About three-quarters of new students in Cornell’s most recent class qualified for the debt-free program, which is based on financial need. The authors presented the early feedback on the program as, at the very least, anecdotal evidence that debt-free medical education can help meet the needs of the patient population.
“Our preliminary observations indicate that implementing a debt-free medical education program for students with demonstrated financial need could offer another potential approach to help diversify medical school enrollment,” the authors wrote. . “This is an essential step in addressing socioeconomic and racial / ethnic disparities in health care.
The lead author of the article said reducing the debt burden is a first step in expanding the diversity of the medical profession.
“Effective diversification of the medical workforce requires a ‘long-term’ approach,” said Dr Kang, Cornell’s senior associate dean for education. “We need to focus more on the early stages of the pipeline to medical school and further diversification of the candidate pool.”
WADA seeks to address the diversity of physicians on several fronts. The AMA Accelerating Change in Medical Education Consortium worked with Morehouse and other member medical schools to share strategies to improve recruitment, foster viable pathways to medicine, promote holistic admissions processes, and create inclusive learning environments. The ultimate goal is to generate a medical workforce that is more like that of the nation.
The group shared a process ofself-study on institutional diversity and inclusionand made a statement toprotect variouslearners during educational disruptions related to COVID-19.
TheBack to WADA Medical School™, meanwhile, introduces children to professional role models and shows children of all ages from under-represented racial and ethnic groups that a career in medicine is accessible to everyone. Learn more about the WADA Minority Affairs Section, which gives voice and advocates for issues that affect minority physicians and medical students.
Launched last year, theAMA Center for Health Equityhas a mandate to integrate health equity throughout the organization so that health equity is part of practice, process, action, innovation and performance and organizational results.