Randall Maxey, M.D., president of the National Medical Association, testified before a policy advisory committee today and called for a re-examination of medical school testing procedures and admissions criteria as a way to boost minority representation in the healthcare industry.
Maxey's remarks were made at a field hearing before the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce meeting in Chicago. The commission, which includes eight physician executives among its 15 members, is headed by former Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan, M.D.
The commission is tasked with issuing a final report in the spring with recommendations for federal and state lawmakers, as well as private-sector initiatives to achieve its aims. Its work is funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, of Battle Creek, Mich., administered by the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C.
Maxey pointed out that although African-Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans represent more than 25% of the population, less than 14% of physicians, 9% of nurses and 5% of dentists come from those groups.
He called for medical schools to re-examine the use of standardized tests in admissions, saying they were not foolproof as predictors of clinical or professional performance.
Maxey also recommended:
- Increase funding of federal programs to promote diversity in healthcare
- Collect and report data on race and ethnicity of admissions, graduation and placement of medical school students and others receiving healthcare training.
- Increase funding for medical schools that historically have trained minorities while making efforts to increase minority enrollments in .predominantly white medical schools.
- Endorse the establishment of a National Physicians Medical Academy as a source of minority physicians dedicated to working with under-served communities.