In 2003, the Association of American Medical Colleges adopted an updated definition of “underrepresented in medicine” for the purposes of ensuring diversity in medical school admissions and faculty hiring and promotion programs.  This more flexible definition replaces a categorial definition which only named as African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and “mainland Puerto Ricans” as “underrepresented minorities.”  This updated definition allows more flexibility for medical schools and academic health centers to tailor their admissions and other programs to address physician diversity at their local, state or regional level.

Congress used this terminology throughout the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, giving funding priority in the health workforce development provisions to programs which demonstrated a record of admitting and placing students who are “underrepresented” in whatever the health profession of focus might be.  

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