The Association of American Medical Colleges launched a national campaign to encourage minorities to apply to medical school. AAMC President Darrell Kirch said attracting more blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans to the nation’s 125 medical schools is "one of the most pressing healthcare challenges we face." Kirch and other officials said there is an "untapped pool" of top-flight minority students, primarily majoring in biology, who are passing up medical school for other careers. Between 1993 and 2004, the number of minority students graduating with undergraduate degrees in biology almost doubled for blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. At the same time, the percentage of those students who applied to medical schools dropped significantly -- by as much as about 40 percentage points in the case of blacks. The AAMC, which has called for a 30% increase in overall medical student enrollment by 2015, said key factors were students’ concerns about doing well on application tests and about financing medical school.
The group will run a national advertising campaign, at a cost of about $1 million this year, to interest minorities in medical school and has created a Web site, aspiringdocs.org. In addition, the AAMC has targeted four schools that have a high percentage of minorities and biology majors --CaliforniaStateUniversity at Fresno , RutgersUniversity , the University of Arizona and the University of Pittsburgh -- for additional efforts. "We must make more progress," Kirch said, "if we’re going to have a physician workforce that in any way accurately reflects the diversity of the population it serves."