Ross University Blog

DEAN’S VIEWPOINT: How to Reverse the Declining Number of African-American Men in Medical School

September 28, 2015

RUSM Dean Joseph A. Flaherty, MD
Joseph A. Flaherty, MD, Dean and Chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine

A recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges points out that since 1978, while the number of African-American men graduating from college has gone up, the number going on to medical school has dropped. This contradiction should serve as a wake-up call to educators and leaders across the country. Medical schools in particular need to look closely at what may be keeping away those African-American students who might otherwise aspire to become physicians.

An editorial co-authored by Joseph Flaherty, MD and Jorge Girotti, PhD—published in the Washington Post—seeks to address this issue. Flaherty, dean and chancellor of Ross University School of Medicine (RUSM), has had an interest in this issue since his days at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, where he served as dean prior to joining RUSM.

“This is an issue we feel very strongly about at RUSM. Opportunity is at the core of our mission, and we should ensure that that opportunity extends far and wide to give as many deserving and qualified students a chance as possible,” said Flaherty.

The 2014-15 RUSM student body is about 25 percent Asian, 11 percent black or African-American, and 9 percent Hispanic. For African-American men, the subject of the new AAMC report, RUSM enrolls at nearly double the level of U.S. schools on average: In the 2014-15 academic year, 4.8 percent of our enrollees were black males, compared to 2.5 percent in the AAMC statistics for U.S. schools.

“That level carries through to graduation,” said Flaherty, pointing out that in the last five years, RUSM’s 138 African-American male graduates have comprised about 5% of all RUSM graduates. Said Flaherty: “Outcomes like this show us all the way to get more African-American male physicians – welcome them as students and give them a fair opportunity to show they have what it takes to become physicians.”

Read the whole editorial here.

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