UC MED SCHOOLS: Minority Enrollment Down, CA Students Migrating
Despite "stepped up" recruiting efforts, the number of African- American, Latino and American Indian medical students at the University of California decreased again this year. Twenty-three African Americans, 39 Latinos and one American Indian enrolled in medical school this year, as compared to last year's 24 African-Americans, 45 Latinos and three American Indians. Syndicated columnist Brenda Payton notes with irony the fact that Dr. Claude Organ, an African American who chairs the surgery residency program at the University of California, Davis-East Bay, received the American College of Surgeons' highest award just one week after the University of California announced the decrease enrollment. "[M]akes you wonder how many Organs we'll see in the future," Payton writes. UC Vice President for Health Affairs Cornelius Hopper has called "expanding the number of underrepresented students trained by UC medical schools" a "vital dimension" of improving the underserved groups' access to care. But since the UC regents voted to ban affirmative action programs, UC medical schools have experienced a 34% decrease in minority enrollment. Organ says many students are going to medical schools outside of California: "Other schools are benefiting from the policy of the UC regents. In the first year class at Meharry (a traditionally black medical school in Tennesee), the largest number of students come from Tennessee, naturally. But the second largest number come from California. That's new for them. Our students are going elsewhere." Organ also said that the regents' vote had "sent a negative message to minority students" that "they're not wanted." He added, "I don't think we've even started to realize the impact of the regents' vote. It's more than just numbers." Payton asked Organ "if the decrease in minority students in California cast a shadow over his honor," to which he replied, "The regents' actions have hurt the pool of candidates for medical schools here. For 200 years, American surgery was dominated and controlled by white males. The idea that wasn't affirmative action is delusional. But I refuse to be discouraged by this temporary lack of sanity and civility" (10/19).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.