MEDICAL SCHOOLS: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DOESN’T IMPACT DOCS
"[A]n extensive study of doctors trained at the UniversityThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
of California at Davis over a 20-year period found that those
admitted with special consideration for factors like race or
ethnic origin had remarkably similar post-graduate records and
careers to those admitted on academic merit alone, New York Times
reports. The two groups "graduated at essentially the same high
rate and, following graduation, they followed parallel paths,
completing residency training at the same rate, receiving similar
evaluations by residency directors, selecting their specialties
in the same percentages and establishing practices with almost
the same racial mixes" (Bronner, 10/8). However, the study also
"seemed to confirm a 1994 study that found under-represented
minorities performed less well in the first two years of medical
school -- with roughly half needing to repeat the science portion
of the national medical board exam, a requirement for becoming
licensed as a doctor" (Burdman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/8).
The authors of the study, Drs. Robert C. Davidson and Ernest L.
Lewis of the UC-Davis School of Medicine, "examined admissions at
the institution from 1968 through 1987" by analyzing student
records and sending "questionnaires to graduates and directors of
their residency programs."
AP/Boston Globe reports that the study "drew quick fire from
opponents of affirmative action, who said the authors manipulated
the data to favor minority preferences." Approximately 53% of
the special admission students who were studied were minorities,
the "rest demonstrated unique leadership qualities, had overcome
barriers such as poverty or physical disability, or had special
skills such as fluency in multiple languages." University of San
Diego law professor Gail Heriot, chair of the "Proposition 209
campaign that barred racial preferences in public hiring,
contracting and education, called the lumping of minority
admissions with other unusual admissions 'a very significant
sleight of hand'" (10/8).
The "results are likely to garner intense scrutiny,"
Chronicle reports because of Proposition 209 as well as "the UC
regents' 1995 decision to ban racial considerations in
admissions." However, Michael Drake, associate dean for
admissions at the University of California at San Francisco,
"said the study findings are old news to medical school
administrations." He said, "The study confirmed something that
we have known all along: the grades and test scores in college
correlate with grades and test scores during the early part of
medical school, but not performance in the ... patient-
interaction, decision-making, taking-care-of-people part of