MEDICAL SCHOOLS: Minority Applicants, Enrollees Down
The number of blacks, Latinos and American Indians applying to California medical schools has dropped 25% since 1995, and the number enrolled is down almost one-third, according to a University of California-San Francisco study released yesterday. Although the number of minority applicants fell 13% nationwide between 1996 and 1998, "the trend began earlier and has been significantly more pronounced in California's public and private medical schools." In the nine schools the UCSF researchers examined, 970 "underrepresented" minorities applied in 1990, but that number rose to 1,641 in 1995 and then dropped to 1,223 in 1998. Researchers blamed the low number of minority applicants and enrollees on the economic recession of the early 1990s and the state's "faltering K-12 public school system and anti-affirmative action" policy. "The message is going out and saying (minorities) are not welcome in medical schools," said lead author Kevin Grumbach, director of UCSF's Center for California Health Workforce Studies.
Now the Tough Part
The authors warned that the trend may impact the state's health care in the future. "It's not simply a matter of fairness, it's a matter of meeting the public health needs of all of California," he said (Bazar, Sacramento Bee, 3/23). UCSF Chancellor Michael Bishop said, "The decline is very disappointing. We have too few underrepresented minorities entering the health care profession. My personal guess is that we have to reach children at an early age and convey to them these are worthy professions that are accessible to them." The researchers advocated reversing the anti-affirmative action Proposition 209 and restoring affirmative action in the UC system (Burdman, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/23). But Ward Connerly, the UC regent who led the campaign for Prop. 209, "scoffed at the notion that UC is inhospitable, saying the study is part of an orchestrated effort to save affirmative action." He noted that the UC system "spends millions of dollars each year on outreach efforts" and that the drop in applications reflects growing opportunities for blacks. "More things have opened up to black people in the academic world, in business, and they've been widely recruited," he said (Bee, 3/23).