Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie,
MD, PhD, Senior Editor.
To the Editor: Dr Cohen1 argued
that the US Supreme Court should not abandon affirmative action in medical
school admissions. I agree with Cohen that the medical profession both benefits
and is benefited by society, and thus selection criteria for medical school
must not disallow segments of that society from gaining access.
During the Supreme Court hearing, much attention will be focused on
the grade point average (GPA) and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) scores.
Although it is known that applicants of certain minorities have lower scores,2 those 2 criteria have uncertain relevance in selecting
the best candidates for the profession. The discrepancy between the high matriculation
rate (90%) and significantly average lower MCAT and GPA scores in the underrepresented
minority populations certainly points out the inadequacy of those 2 criteria
in predicting medical school performance.3,4 That
is not surprising, considering that "medicine" is actually a collection of
multiple professions that are highly variable in their knowledge base, skill
requirements, and modes of practice. Furthermore, there are many criteria
of a "successful" physician (eg, a busy practice, a good educator, number
of publications, quality of research), and thus the relevance of GPA and MCAT
scores is further diluted.
Strugar J. Affirmative Action in Medical School Admissions—Reply. JAMA. 2003;289(23):3084. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3084-a