The AAP is expressing its concern about the impact Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action will have on the physician workforce and is pledging to continue to support diversity.
After reviewing admissions practices at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the majority of justices said race cannot be used as a factor. However, the AAP and other medical organizations argued in a legal filing that deliberate diversification of student bodies in medical schools produces a diverse health care workforce, which is vital to addressing health disparities.
“When pediatricians and other medical professionals train and practice alongside people with diverse backgrounds, they become more familiar with different cultures, challenge assumptions and improve care and health outcomes,” AAP President Sandy L. Chung, M.D., FAAP, said in a statement Thursday. “Everyone benefits from exposure to diverse perspectives, from medical personnel to patients.”
Dr. Chung said the decision to exclude race as a factor in admissions likely will exacerbate the existing underrepresentation of certain racial and ethnic groups in medicine. In 2019, about 5% of physicians were Black and 7% were Hispanic despite making up 12% and 18% of the working-age population, respectively, according to the medical groups’ court filing.
“All future pediatricians and other medical professionals deserve to be considered as applicants to higher education in a way that holistically reflects their lived experience, including how their race impacts their identity,” Dr. Chung said. “The AAP will continue to support the development of a diverse pathway of future pediatricians to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population of children, and we call on policymakers to do the same.”