The Policy Argument for Healthcare Workforce Diversity

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The Policy Argument for Healthcare Workforce Diversity

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Title: The Policy Argument for Healthcare Workforce Diversity
Author: Mensah, Michael; Sommers, Benjamin Daniel

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Mensah, Michael O., and Benjamin D. Sommers. 2016. “The Policy Argument for Healthcare Workforce Diversity.” Journal of General Internal Medicine (July 18). doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3784-1.
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Abstract: This perspectives article considers the potential implications an affirmative action ban would have on patient care in the US. A physician’s race and ethnicity are among the strongest predictors of specialty choice and whether or not a physician cares for Medicaid and uninsured populations. Taking this into account, research suggests that an affirmative action ban in university admissions would sharply reduce the supply of primary care physicians to Medicaid and uninsured populations over the coming decade. Our article compares current conditions to the potential effect of an affirmative action ban by projecting how many future medical students will become primary care physicians for Medicaid and uninsured patients by 2025. Based on previous evidence and current medical student training patterns, we project that a ban could deny primary care access for 1.25 million of our nation’s most vulnerable patients, considerably worsening existing healthcare disparities. More broadly, we argue that the effects of eliminating affirmative action would be fundamentally contrary to the Association of American Medical Colleges’ stated goal of medical education—“to improve the health of all.”
Published Version: doi:10.1007/s11606-016-3784-1
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at
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