White Coats, White Faces: Checking the Pulse of Blacks in Medical School Admissions

Blacks, Hispanics and American Indians now make up nearly 30 percent of the U.S. population. But only 6 percent of the physicians currently practicing in the United States are members of minority groups. As a result, the Association of American Medical Colleges has set a top priority of increasing the number of blacks and other minorities who enroll in medical school.

To date, this strategy has had limited success. The number of black students who apply to medical school has risen from 2,983 students in 2002 to 3,471 this year. This is an increase of more than 16 percent over the past five years. In 2007 blacks were 8.2 percent of all medical school applicants.

But despite an increase in applicants, there has been no increase in the number of black students who are accepted or enroll at medical schools. In fact, from 2002 to 2007, the number of blacks accepted at U.S. medical schools actually declined. Slightly more than 38 percent of all blacks who applied to medical school in 2007 were accepted. For whites, the acceptance rate was 47 percent.

This fall 1,281 blacks enrolled in their first year of medical school. They made up 7.2 percent of all entering students. In 2002 there were 1,283 black students who enrolled in medical school. They made up 7.8 percent of all first-year enrollments.

It is likely that the decline in the number of black students accepted to medical school is due to sharp cutbacks in affirmative action throughout the nation.