The Value of Racial Diversity in Medical Education

A new study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles suggests that students who attend medical schools with a high degree of racial and ethnic diversity make better doctors than students who go to medical schools that have a low level of diversity.

The study, published this month in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined whether “white students educated in a racially diverse environment show a greater sensitivity to the healthcare needs of traditionally underrepresented minority populations.” Over a two-year period the researchers surveyed more than 20,000 medical school graduates from 118 different medical schools.

The results show a direct correlation between the racial diversity of their medical schools to the graduates’ views on whether they were prepared to care for patients from racial groups other than their own. The results also showed that graduates of racially diverse medical schools were more likely than other medical school graduates to endorse the idea that quality medical care is a societal right rather than a privilege.

The authors conclude that medical schools are justified in using affirmative action to increase the racial diversity of their student bodies. The racial diversity at these schools produced doctors that, according to the authors, are better prepared to provide healthcare to an increasingly diverse population.