Why Black Men Are Making No Progress in Medical Education

AAMC CoverA new report from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) finds that the number of Black males who are applying to medical school has not increased since 1978. In 1978, 1,410 Black males applied to U.S. medical schools. In 2014, the figure was 1,337. In 1978, 542 Black men matriculated at U.S. medical schools, compared to 515 in 2014.

In 2014, women were 62.2 percent of all African Americans who applied to medical school. In every other major racial or ethnic group, men were a majority of all applicants.

Researchers at the AAMC interviewed a group of Black pre-med students, physicians, and researchers to determine why their has been no progress in increasing the number of Black men in medical schools. Among the barriers to fuller participation in medical education by Black men cited in the report are biases and low expectations for Black men, poor quality education at the K-12 level, lack of Black male mentors in medical education, and the attractiveness of lucrative careers in other STEM fields that do not require as much training.

One major problem is the financial burden of medical education. Nearly 42 percent of all Black male medical school graduates have debt greater than $200,000. A 2006 report from the AAMC found that only 26 percent of practicing Black male physicians said their personal finances were in excellent or very good shape. This compares to 33 percent of Black women physicians and more than half of all White physicians.

The report, Altering the Course: Black Males in Medicine can be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. Someone needs to proofread the title of this article….”Why Black Men are making no progress…should read, “Why Black Men are not making progress”….

      • Hey, he got the message across, right? Instead on wasting energy on being grammatically correct, how about we find ways to help black males seek a better path in life.

        • The BEST way is to acquire a sound Grammatical education.Without this there is no way that the situation with regard to black men in higher education will improve.They have got to see the connection between speaking correctly, reading more and better jobs.

  2. Another factor that should be considered is the admissions process for medical school. The MCAT has remained the barrier of keeping the African American males out of medical school. The numbers are equally low in graduate schools for the STEM fields. The number of black females still outnumber males in graduate school. I find this alarming in the 21st century. I know that some schools are trying to take a more holistic approach and focusing on the high school level; but more needs to be done. This gender gap needs to be addressed, because it’s leading into a loss of diversity. Also it is widening the health disparity gap and further causing a healthcare crisis.

    • Add to those the problem of salary differentials, between black men and women; college level differences; and the unemployment figures. All these will eventually destroy the Male Image and lead to serious issues such as diminishing numbers of suitable partners for women, higher rates of single parent homes and delinquency, etc. etc.

  3. John Williams: Given the fact that medical schools let blacks in with much lower scores than any other race, I’m going to guess that those scores aren’t the problem.

  4. Either 50+ years of implemented leftist social theory has left us little closer to our goals and ought to be completely re-thought, or there are indeed group differences in intelligence which present real and challenging barriers requiring policy to be re-thought. Clearly what we’re doing is not working, and a reality based approach might better serve all.

  5. It all begins in K-12 education. If they not understanding or taking the proper core classes recommended for pre-med majors, then they are pretty much at a loss after matriculation to college. Another thing, there is a simple solution to the MCAT: study more and spend more time doing it. At the public library, I see this all the time with ambitious students of various age groups and racial backgrounds. They will spend all day inside the library studying either for the SAT,ACT, GMAT, GRE, MCAT or other tests required for matriculation. It has nothing to do with intelligence, only investment in time. Also, exposure from volunteering/internships during summer breaks and joining a science club are both helpful in the path to medical school.

  6. Re: Jack Cade and Mike Scott,

    It appear that your borderline eugenics comments is patently false and only reveals your obvious racist tendencies that’s at the core of your ideology. In fact, ” growing body of literature suggesting that traditional measures of past academic achievement have little, if any predictive power for performance during medical school”(Poe, 2012). The fact remains until the narrative changes for the many in the Black community concerning the absolute importance of higher education in all fields, we will continue to have these circular discussions. Further, if the Black community truly wanted to solve this problem, these so-called Black leaders would devise, create, and implement the appropriate academic programs to rectify this problem.

    In my opinion, if the Black community expended one fourth of its time, energy, and money in trying to create the next Lebron James or Kobe Bryant, towards cultivating our intellectual capacity, we would a groundswell of medical doctors, Ph.Ds, MBA, engineers, venture capitalists, etc.. Unfortunately, too many from our Black community have been socially engineered to believe that we can only excel on the gridiron, the basketball court, or the track.

  7. I am the Director of Premedical Studies at a large, four-year public institution in NYC. As a member of the National Association of Minority Medical Educators and for those of us in the trenches, these numbers are no surprise. I recall being at a NAMME conference several years that predicted with alarm the dire future of black males entering the profession of medicine. I recall the chilling words of the presenter, “for black and latino boys, all is lost in middle school”. HCOP funding has been dramatically cut, ending pipeline programs that did foster increases in black males in STEM. Female, single-head-of-households has become the norm in the black community and many of the boys are being born in poverty. Graduation from HS is considered an achievement; let alone medical school ambition. As I work with parents, teachers and students, I often remind them that if the goal is a STEM major and if the goal is college, the student must be prepared to start college ready to do Freshman Composition and at the very least, Pre-Calculus. But we all know how deeply unattainable that goal is for young men. Even in my own institution that receives a CSTEP grant, at the end of the day, Tariq is still failing General Biology and the students who are being supported by the CSTEP grant are being nurtured for careers in research. Very few are African-American males. I am so tired of the rhetoric. The evidence is clear. More must be done at the K-12 levels, HCOP funding needs to be restored to identify talented black males into necessary and crucial pipeline programs, and mentoring must take place as soon as elementary school to provide young black males with appropriate and proper role models. And I deeply resent Jack Cade’s comments that “there are indeed group differences in intelligence which present real and challenging barriers requiring policy.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The New York Times recently reported that 1 in 12 black men aged 25-54 in the US is incarcerated. The prison industry in this country is private and makes millions off the incarceration of black men. Add to that deeply flawed drug laws and lack of thoughtful, responsible legal representation and an entrenched judicial system and there is no surprise that while blacks make up only 10-12% of the population, they represent half of those incarcerated, awaiting trial, on probation or in jail. From where I sit, there are so many variables that are out of our control that I honestly cannot see this situation improving any time soon.

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