By Geoffrey H. Young, PhD, Senior Director, Transforming Health Care Workforce, AAMC
On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) condemned Harvard’s and UNC’s consideration of applicant race and ethnicity in admissions in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina.
The AAMC has long been an advocate for strengthening the diversity of the medical and graduate student body -- and the physician and research workforce. In fact, it urged the court to refrain from a broad prohibition on awareness of an applicant’s race, which for many applicants is a significant part of their personal story. Moreover, any action that comes with the risk of decreasing diversity in the health professions and limiting the ability to address existing and projected physician workforce shortages is contrary to improving our country’s public health.
The majority opinion states: “Nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” In other words, to the extent an applicant’s racial background or experiences played a meaningful role in the development of their character or their aspirations, schools may consider those personal experiences and attributes on an individualized basis. Medical school admissions processes are designed to be individualized and an applicant’s personal story and character – as demonstrated in essays, interviews, and letters of reference – are often identified as critical considerations by medical schools.
No matter what happens next, the AAMC will continue to support students and support their rights. We will work together, share effective practices, and demonstrate unwavering resolve in achieving our missions and supporting necessary action to increase diversity in medical schools and the health professions workforce. The AAMC will continue to work with and on behalf of applicants, medical and graduate students, and medical schools to support necessary action to increase diversity in medical schools and the health professions in service of improving the health of people everywhere.