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Invited Commentary
February 2014

Taking Diversity Seriously: The Merits of Increasing Minority Representation in Medicine

Author Affiliations
  • 1Section of General Internal Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, Oregon
JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(2):291-292. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.12736

For decades, efforts to increase the presence of underrepresented minority (URM) groups in the physician workforce have received widespread endorsement. Actual progress in diversifying our profession, however, has been disappointing. The disconnect between vocal support and visible results has been due, at least in part, to a pervasive but often unspoken belief that diversity is an “extra,” a secondary consideration when selecting future members of our profession. Diversity would be nice, we believe, as long as it does not require trade-offs in more important factors, particularly academic achievement, as measured by science grades and standardized test scores. With that mind-set, lower average grades and scores among URM students, blamed on inequitable primary and secondary education, provides an easy excuse to shrug our shoulders on the issue of diversity.

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