What are educators doing to improve diversity in medicine?

If we are really to have diversity in medicine, the foundation for that science education must begin somewhere.  I was reading the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), and came across an article entitled, “Diversity Dynamics — Challenges to a Representative U.S. Medical Workforce,” by Mr. John K. Iglehart. In the article he discusses what is lacking in our educational system, which may be the justification for the paucity of minorities in the medical workforce today. Mr. Iglehart remarked, that there are, “shortcomings of elementary and secondary schools in preparing minority and low-income students for college, much less medical school…” This statement was of utmost concern, as the founder of The Cush Center for Learning Inc., an organization that aims to work with the underserved in STEM subjects I endeavor to work with our educators to ensure our most inquisitive youth, from underserved areas, are being worked with. If educators are not doing their part, this only justifies the mission of my company, and the work that I endeavor to do.

From my experience, I was assisted along my medical journey by several public school educators, and by some university professors. My parents also played a role in cultivating my academic prowess, via homework and the plethora of science projects I had the option of doing, but for the most part my teachers supported my passion for science. Hopefully, this is not the case in our modern times, yet I have noticed a paucity of certain minorities along my journey. Furthermore, the article also mentioned, there are more African-American women, than men, in medical school, but despite those facts white males tend to exceed all racial groups in medical school, overall. I find this chasm to be of concern. I would like to know, is it that our educators are not reinforcing the scientific passion of our minority men and women or, do minorities, not wish to be a part of this medical arena.

With my company, I will be at the forefront of identifying whether this is the case. I hope my latter viewpoint is wrong, in that schools are willing to do their part to help foster innovation, among the underserved students. I hope The Cush Center for Learning, Inc., can help educators who do not understand the importance of diversity in the STEM arena and medical workforce, realize that diversity is the key to success. In my opinion, without it in our society, our daily life would be stagnant.

Diversity allows for cultural expression and exposure to other worlds. It humbles the medical workforce, and makes us more tolerant of others, as it is the vessel for our future physicians to interact with patients of different backgrounds. Without cultivating diverse academic minds, at the grade school level we are paralyzing our future medical workforce.

If there are young minds, who wish to succeed in the health sciences and wish to become pillars in our medical workforce, educators, must help them realize their dream. I do not feel students do not want help, and I hope the commentary by Mr. Iglehart, does not hold true for future generations. The changes we make today can only serve to improve ourselves for tomorrow. I hope educators, are working together to close this gap in medicine; otherwise, we will be doing a disservice to future patients and ourselves.