This “clarion call” from the Association of American Medical Colleges is directed to leaders across the education continuum, from kindergarten through professional school, to rise to the challenge of increasing the number of black males in medicine and to recognize the opportunity to alter the course for black males by collectively redoubling efforts and partnering in new ways.
In 1978, there were 1,410 black male applicants to medical school, and in 2014, there were just 1,337. The number of black male matriculants to medical school over more than 35 years has also not surpassed the 1978 numbers. In 1978, there were 542 black male matriculants, and in 2014, we had 515. No other minority group has experienced such declines. According to the AAMC, the inability to find, engage, and develop candidates for careers in medicine from all members of our society limits our ability to improve health care for all.
The report outlines several “success factors” for increasing the number of black males in medicine:
- Build a support network of champions, peer support, mentors, and members of study groups
- Cultivate personal attributes such as resilience, self-awareness, and self- knowledge
- Gain access to information to understand the multiple pathways to medical school and to have knowledge of financial resources available
- Enroll in premedical and research pipeline programs
In turn, academic medicine has a responsibility to:
- Engage leadership
- Examine and enhance institutional policies and administrative practices
- Develop and support promising programs and initiatives
- Engage the community beyond the walls of the academic health center
AAMC hopes that the report will prompt leaders in academic medicine to redouble their efforts to improve opportunities for minorities, with specific attention to black males. They may rethink and renew their existing initiatives, including reviewing and updating current admissions policies and practices, thinking creatively about formal and informal efforts to engage black men and their communities, and conducting community outreach. AAMC also will partner with the National Medical Association to continue to highlight the importance of this issue and work together towards implementation of solutions.