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May 22, 1996

Minorities in Medicine: the Flexner Report

Author Affiliations

New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center New York, NY

JAMA. 1996;275(20):1547-1548. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530440025031

To the Editor.  —As the article by Drs Nickens and Cohen1 suggested, it is difficult to discuss the issues facing minorities in medicine today without also confronting the problems of affirmative action. Yet, the history of medical education in the United States suggests the examination of a far more important policy document, the Flexner Report of 1910.2 Perhaps no document has affected the plight of minorities in medicine to a greater extent. Following the American Medical Association report on the nation's medical schools, this landmark report fundamentally shaped the course of medical education. In it, Abraham Flexner, an educator, presented findings based on his study of 135 medical schools and recommended the closing of 5 of the 7 then-existing black medical schools. Said to be "in no position to make any contribution of value," these 5 medical colleges were disbanded on the findings of the report.Chapter XIV