June 30, 2023
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), a coalition of 50 specialty societies representing more than 800,000 physicians across medicine, is disappointed with the US Supreme Court’s decision to limit the consideration of an applicant’s racial or ethnic background in the admissions process for higher education. The court’s decisions in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vs Harvard and SFFA vs the University of North Carolina will hamper efforts to diversify healthcare professionals, including physicians, in the United States.
Compelling data demonstrate that medical schools, healthcare systems, and medical specialties that embrace diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are more innovative, more empathetic, and perform at a higher level. Such organizations also experience less turnover, are considered more satisfying workplaces, and are financially more profitable. Diversity in the health professions improves the educational experiences of students, the teaching experiences of faculty, and the overall health of our nation. Growing evidence also indicates that race concordance with your physician produces higher levels of communication, trust, and adherence to medical advice.
Addressing pervasive and persistent health and healthcare disparities and inequities requires identifying and confronting racism on a systemic level. Health status closely correlates with racism and socioeconomic status, which is further stagnated by a lack of upward mobility through multiple generations. In addition to health and healthcare, these social determinants of health include economic stability, social and community context, neighborhood and built environment, and education.
Unfortunately, the educational system in the United States (including undergraduate and graduate medical education) often disadvantages people who are Black, Latinx, Native American, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders. Black Americans are currently 13.4% of the US population, but few apply (8.4%), matriculate (6.2%), or match into residency programs (5.1%). From 1970 to 2020, the percentage of Black Americans graduating from US medical schools did not change, whereas, by comparison, the percentage of women completing medical school increased from 8.4% to 49.6%.
CMSS is committed to strengthening the diversity of health professionals, including physicians. If the court’s decision requires changes to current law, the coalition and its members stand ready to work with the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the Accreditation Commission on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), and other stakeholders to ensure a diverse health professions workforce.
About the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS)
The Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) is a coalition of 50 specialty societies representing more than 800,000 physicians across the house of medicine. As the national organization of specialty societies, CMSS provides a proactive platform to assess and address emerging issues across specialties that influence the future of healthcare and the patients we serve.