and fail to place appropriate emphasis on qualitative attributes of applicants that may more accurately predict success in health professions careers (e.g., empathy, leadership, commitment to service, cross-cultural experience, linguistic ability, and interpersonal skills);

  • The absence, in many HPEIs, of appropriate training for admissions committee members regarding diversity issues, of inclusion of representatives of relevant stakeholder groups that are affected by admissions decisions on admissions committees, and of rewards and incentives for faculty for committee service and other efforts to enhance diversity in the institution;

  • Unmet financial need that may disproportionately limit URM participation in health professions education programs and inconsistent federal and state support for health professions education programs that encourage minority participation in health professions careers and provide services to medically underserved communities;

  • The failure of some health professions accreditation bodies to establish, monitor, and enforce strong diversity-related program standards, and the failure of the U.S. Department of Education to encourage the development of such standards;

  • The failure of HPEIs to recognize the need to develop and regularly evaluate comprehensive strategies to improve the institutional climate for diversity; and

  • The lack of information for key constituency groups—such as healthcare consumer groups, leaders of communities served by academic health centers, and others—regarding diversity among the health professionals that serve them and the potential benefits of diversity for health-care consumers.

These institutional and policy-level barriers to greater URM participation in health professions can be reduced through a series of interventions aimed at a range of stakeholders. Health professions education leaders, their institutions, and the organizations that govern their operation (e.g., governance bodies, accrediting organizations) figure prominently in this effort. The hallmark of any profession is the obligation to set standards to serve the needs of the public. Accordingly, these groups must provide leadership by educating their constituencies about the benefits of diversity and establishing policies and standards that promote greater diversity among health professionals. These efforts should be directed toward HPEIs; their students, faculty, and others involved in health professions education; health professions education accrediting organizations; public and private sources of financial aid for health professions students; and all institutions that directly or indirectly serve the public and are accountable for the use of public resources to improve the public’s health.



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