Assessing the Outcome of Affirmative Action in Medical Schools

A Study of the Class of 1975

by Steven N. Keith, Robert M. Bell, Albert P. Williams


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Based on an analysis of data on people who graduated from U.S. medical schools in 1975, this study reports on the ways that specialty choice, practice location, patient populations served, and board certification rates differ between minority and nonminority graduates. It also considers the relationship of premedical school performance and socioeconomic status to these variables. Although they entered the primary care specialties to a greater extent than nonminorities, there is an impressive dispersion of minority graduates across all specialties. Minority graduates are practicing in physician-shortage areas at twice the rate of their nonminority counterparts, and they are caring for significantly greater proportions of minority and Medicaid patients. Only about half the minority physicians had obtained board certification in their specialty, compared with four-fifths of the nonminority graduates. The results for specialty choice, practice location, and patient characteristics support the continuing affirmative action in medical schools.

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