An introduction to the history of black medical trainees: In these unprecedented times, Black medical professionals must deliver excellent medical care and uphold the highest standards of their profession while living through a devastating pandemic. They must do so in a time when the country tries to reconcile with generations of racism and injustice. The current social environment in America is particularly challenging for medical trainees such as medical students and resident physicians who must focus on their educational requirements and careers in settings that are often averse to addressing topics such as racism. This plight is not new for Black medical trainees, as they have been fighting for centuries to obtain an equitable seat at the table of medical education. Throughout the 19th century and early 20th century, Black physicians were repeatedly disenfranchised from the predominantly white medical societies, most notably the American Medical Association (AMA), which was established in 1847. Racially integrated medical organizations such as the National Medical Society of Washington D.C. (NMS), which was founded in 1870, were developed to challenge discriminatory practices of the American Medical Association against Black practitioners. The inception of the National Medical Association (NMA) in 1895 allowed Black doctors to advocate for disadvantaged patient populations and focus efforts on health issues pertinent to the underserved.
The struggles of the black trainee: However, Black and underrepresented minorities continue to face challenges with medical school matriculation and retention. A 2015 AAMC report showed that Black male medical school matriculants failed to increase significantly between 1978 and 2014. From 2006 to 2018, the number of Black medical school matriculants increased from 6.7% to 7.1%.
Solutions for improving medical education for the black trainee: To improve these matriculation statistics, it is critical that institutions integrate innovative measures such as robust recruitment pipelines to expose underrepresented high school and college students to the medical field, as well as seek diversity actively in administration to dismantle the ingrained ideologies of systemic racism rooted in healthcare and medical education. To combat the institutionalized racism that has plagued medical education throughout its existence, collaboration as a unified front is essential to achieving the equity and social justice in healthcare that patients deserve.
Keywords: Diversity; Medical education; Medical student; Race; Resident.
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