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Study confirms persistence of diversity problems in academic medicine
Date:1/30/2009

A survey study believed to be one of the first efforts to put hard numbers around long-held beliefs about diversity in medical school faculties has affirmed that awareness and sensitivity to racial and ethnic diversity are believed by most faculty to be poor and even poorer among faculty who are members of underrepresented minorities.

The survey, conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is likely a reflection of diversity issues thought to persist at academic medical institutions across the country, says principal investigator Lisa Cooper, M.D., a professor of medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

"What we are seeing at Johns Hopkins is likely to be the case in medical schools everywhere, namely that enhancing racial and ethnic diversity in medicine in general, and in academic medicine in particular, remains a challenge," Cooper says. The study results appear in the January issue of Academic Medicine.

The medical professions have long recognized that diversity among health care providers can improve the health of patients among racial and ethnic minorities and majorities alike, says Cooper. She adds that studies have demonstrated that minority physicians are more likely to practice in underserved areas and to care for patients of their own racial or ethnic group, as well as low-income patients, Medicaid-insured and uninsured patients, and patients with poorer health status. Studies also suggest that minorities welcome practitioners who are part of their communities and sensitive to their cultures.

Cooper, who received a 2007 MacArthur Fellowship (also known as a "genius grant") for her landmark studies on racial barriers to health care, notes that medical schools have strived to increase diversity among the physician workforce by implementing programs that increase the number of minority medical students, such as
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Contact: Christen Brownlee
cbrownlee@jhmi.edu
410-955-7823
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Source:Eurekalert

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