New diversity policy from AMA

The policy is part of the organization’s commitment to racial justice and equity.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted a new policy aimed to increase diversity in the physician workforce.

According to a news release, the move is part of the organization’s commitment to racial justice and equity and builds on the AMA’s strategic plan. The policy was adopted during the organization’s Special Meeting of its House of Delegates.

“Studies show that racial, ethnic and gender diversity among health professionals promotes better access to health care, improves health care quality for underserved populations, and better meets the health care needs of our increasingly diverse population,” said AMA Board of Trustee Member Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, says in the release. “ Yet, our physician workforce does not adequately reflect the actual racial, ethnic or gender makeup of the patients in the communities we serve. A critical step in moving forward, we must call out the lasting negative impact that the Flexner Report, and other harmful past actions by the medical profession, has had on today’s physician workforce. We must address and reconcile these lasting harms to ensure that future physicians are aware of structural factors that are impeding their patient’s health outcomes, and continue efforts to ensure a diverse physician workforce that meets the needs of our patients.”

The provisions of the policy are below as they appear in the release:

  • Recognize some people have been historically underrepresented, excluded from, and marginalized in medical education and medicine because of their race, ethnicity, disability status, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic origin, and rurality, due to racism and other systems of exclusion and discrimination
  • Commit to promoting truth and reconciliation in medical education as it relates to improving equity
  • Recognize the harm caused by the Flexner Report to historically Black medical schools, the diversity of the physician workforce, and the outcomes of minoritized and marginalized patient populations
  • Work with appropriate stakeholders to commission and enact the recommendations of a forward-looking, cross-continuum, external study of 21st century medical education focused on reimagining the future of health equity and racial justice in medical education, improving the diversity of the health workforce, and ameliorating inequitable outcomes among minoritized and marginalized patient populations
  • Encourage the development of evidence-informed programs to build role models among academic leadership and faculty for the mentorship of students, residents, and fellows underrepresented in medicine and in specific specialties
  • Encourage physicians to engage in their communities to guide, support, and mentor high school and undergraduate students with a calling to medicine
  • Encourage medical schools, health care institutions, managed care and other appropriate groups to adopt and utilize activities that bolster efforts to include and support individuals who are underrepresented in medicine by developing policies that articulate the value and importance of diversity as a goal that benefits all participants, cultivating and funding programs that nurture a culture of diversity on campus, and recruiting faculty and staff who share this that goal
  • Continue to study and provide recommendations to improve the future of health equity and racial justice in medical education, the diversity of the health workforce, and the outcomes of marginalized patient populations
  • Encourage the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Labor to develop policies and initiatives in support of students from marginalized backgrounds that 1) decrease the educational opportunity gap; 2) increase participation in high school Advanced Placement courses; and 3) increase the high school graduation rate
  • Advocate for funding to support the creation and sustainability of Historically Black College and University (HBCU), Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), and Tribal College and University (TCU) affiliated medical schools and residency programs, with the goal of achieving a physician workforce that is proportional to the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of the United States population
  • Work with appropriate stakeholders to study reforms to mitigate demographic and socioeconomic inequities in the residency and fellowship selection process, including but not limited to the selection and reporting of honor society membership and the use of standardized tools to rank applicants, with report back to the House of Delegates
  • Establish a task force to guide organizational transformation within and beyond the AMA toward restorative justice to promote truth, reconciliation, and healing in medicine and medical education

This article was originally published on Medical Economics®.