It’s a crisis. Black men are underrepresented in medical schools and the medical profession.

A 2018 publication summarizes presentations from a two-day workshop held November 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine and the Cobb Institute.

The 170-page book summarizes discussions from the workshop, which focused on the low participation of Black men in the medical profession, strategies used to increase their participation in medical education, and strategies along the pipeline that may increase participation in medicine.

According to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, in 2016-17, U.S.-born Black men represented only 1 percent of enrollees.

During 2016-17, more than 53,000 people applied to medical school. Of that number 14,049 were white men. More than 5,690 actually enrolled during the same year.

In contrast, 1,318 black women applied to medical school in 2016-17 and 441actuallyy enrolled. The numbers were even bleaker for black men.

During 2016-17, 730 black men applied to medical school and 273 actually enrolled.

At the meeting, Dr. Louis Sullivan,  former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and founder of the Morehouse School of Medicine said “there has been a failure since 1978 to increase the number of Black males applying to and entering medical school. A decrease of African American male students occurred from 1978 to 2014,” he added.

Dr. Camara Jones of the Morehouse School of Medicine said: “racism is a prime challenge and barrier for men along the trajectory.”

Research suggests that a lack of diversity in the health workforce contributes to health disparities.

The growing absence of Black men in medicine is troubling because it has adverse consequences for health care access, quality, and outcomes among Black Americans and Americans overall.

Speakers at the workshop discussed:
• challenges encountered in the transition points to becoming successful physicians and scientists, including the potential roles of racism and mental health and resiliency;
• innovative and exploratory strategies to support entry and passage through educational and career transition points;
• ways these strategies can possibly be scaled up and spread;
• financial barriers to medical education; and
• the potential roles of government, educational systems, philanthropy, industry, and
other sectors in effecting change.

To download a copy of the workshop proceedings, visit nationalacademies.org/BlackMeninMedicine

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. An American Crisis: The Growing Absence of Black Men in Medicine and Science: Proceedings of a Joint Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25130.

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