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June 18, 2003

Affirmative Action in Medical School AdmissionsAffirmative Action in Medical School Admissions

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Stephen J. Lurie, MD, PhD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2003;289(23):3084. doi:10.1001/jama.289.23.3084-a

To the Editor: In response to Dr Cohen,1 I believe that the question of affirmative action can be boiled down to this: do the means justify the end? That is, does the goal of having an ethnically diverse physician workforce justify racial discrimination in medical school admissions? Cohen makes cogent arguments for why an ethnically diverse physician workforce is a laudable goal. However, there is no question that affirmative action is based on racial discrimination. When skin color is given higher weight than academic qualifications and medical experience, it is clear that racial discrimination is being practiced. This racial discrimination is occurring behind the closed doors of the medical school admissions committee and far from the eye of the public. There is essentially no recourse for the parties discriminated against, since judgments of the committee are final. The only recourse is to the Supreme Court, an almost insurmountable barrier.

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