Smedley, Brian D., Stith, Adrienne Y., Colburn, Lois, Evans, Clyde H.. "How Do We Retain Minority Health Professions Students?." The Right Thing to Do, The Smart Thing to Do: Enhancing Diversity in Health Professions -- Summary of the Symposium on Diversity in Health Professions in Honor of Herbert W. Nickens, M.D.. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2001.
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The Right Thing to do, The Smart Thing to do Enhancing Diversity in the Health Professions
application and through a personal interview, were also used to make admissions decisions. The focus was on non-cognitive factors which would help schools to identify URM students who had the potential to be successful medical students even if their grades and MCAT scores were lower than non-minority students. These same factors were also used to accept women, non-science majors, rural applicants, and older applicants. This was a period of great diversification of the medical school student body, especially women and non-traditional students, but URM students did not benefit as much through these efforts as did other groups.
Despite good intentions and considerable effort, first-time enrollment of URM students did not reach 12% until the 1994–1995 academic year, and total URM enrollment did not reach 12% until the 1996–1997 academic year. From 1975 to 1989, the proportion of minorities in the population increased by 22%, while the proportion in medical school increased by only 12% (AAMC, 1997).
In 1991, Dr. Robert Petersdorf, in his presidential address at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Medical Colleges, challenged United States allopathic medical schools to matriculate 3,000 underrepresented minority students by the year 2000 (Petersdorf, Turner, Nickens, & Ready, 1990). This highly promoted initiative highlighted a renewed interest on the part of the AAMC and the medical schools to increase the number of medical students from historically underrepresented minority groups—Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native. At the time Project 3000 by 2000 was announced in 1991, the total number of first-time URM applicants to medical school was 2,854 and 1,584 of these URM applicants joined the 1991–1992 class of medical students.
Medical schools, historically the passive benefactors of the college premedical applicants, began to explore ways to directly increase the size and quality of the URM applicant pool. In contrast to the short-term strategy of post baccalaureate programs, a long-term strategy was also explored. Many medical schools joined in educational partnerships with elementary and secondary schools and community groups at the start of the pre-medical pipeline and then at various later stages with colleges and universities.
These initiatives involved medical school faculty and administrators directly interacting with potential applicants before and during the application process which made it possible for these minority youths to have an opportunity to have first-hand exposure to the medical school culture, medical students, faculty, and administrators. Using a variety of different templates, collaborative efforts were made to increase the draw, flow, and output of the pipeline to maximize the quality and quantity of URM students who applied to and were accepted by medical schools. The April 1999 issue of Academic Medicine is devoted to descriptions of 12 K–12 programs and 14 College and Medical School Programs (Nickens, & Ready, 1999).
The pipeline approach focused on convincing young minority students and their parents that medicine was a desirable and realistic career goal. Once students entered the pipeline, the focus was on improving their overall science edu-