Objectives: Recent challenges to affirmative action suggest the need to reassess the status of the admission of underrepresented minority students to US medical schools.
Methods: The Association of American medical colleges provided US medical school enrollment data and characteristics. Five measures of underrepresented minority enrolled and an overall performance scale were constructed for each school. Multivariate regression identified significant overall performance predictors. Predicted and observed values were compared.
Results: Underrepresented minority enrollment increased by 43% after 1986, peaked at 2014 in 1994, did not increase in 1995, and decreased by 5% in 1996. Enrollment was associated with increasing federal research funding and with percentage of underrepresented minorities in the sources population P < .001). The 1996 decline was almost entirely limited to public medical schools. Those in California, Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana accounted for 18% of 1995 enrollment but 44% of the 1996 decline.
Conclusions: Recent gains in medical school enrollment of underrepresented minorities are being reversed, particularly at public institutions. Implications exist for the health of poor, minority, and underserved communities, which are most likely to be cared for by underrepresented minority physicians.