In 1991, an article was published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) that reviewed the progress of black males in the medical educational pipeline. They noted that the highest number of black males who entered medical school occurred in 1971 with 626 young men.

In 2014, the AAMC revisited this concern and noted that despite increasing number of black males graduating from colleges, the number that were accepted into medical school was 515. Many of the factors identified in the 2014 were also listed as issues in the 1991 article; subjective patterns of admission, not reapplying after rejection, lack of role models and faculty of color, and difficulty in being competitive on standardized testing.

Held back

In the light of the Black Lives Matter movement, let us take a look at the state of living for black males in America. In 2012, only 55 percent of black males graduated from high school, then only 36 percent of them matriculated to college. The national average of black males in graduating from college is 33 percent, and of that number less than 5 percent apply to medical school.

In contrast, black males are leading the nation in those incarcerated with 3,074 out of 100,000 when compared to 459 out of 100,000 white males and 1,258 out of 100,000 for Hispanics.

In considering admissions processes when it comes to acceptances/applicants to medical school, black males are the least accepted at 38 percent versus 43 percent for whites and 48 percent for Hispanics. Further noted, only 46 percent of black males who took the admissions test did not even apply to medical school, which speaks to the issue of counseling.

“Not much has changed from the 1990’s to 2016 for black males aspiring to become doctors.”

Providing a diverse workforce

While noted demographers speak of the browning of America — that by 2050 America will have a majority minority population — with health disparities costing 17 percent of our gross domestic product, it is imperative that we have a diverse health professional workforce to promote prevention as well as health equity.

Opportunities exist to increase exposure to successful academic practices, improving the educational experiences of black students at majority schools and in developing a more robust health career counseling programs.

In the future, more investments with long-term implications can be a solution to provide the diverse workforce to maintain a healthy American population.

Change must happen

Not much has changed from the 1990’s to 2016 for black males aspiring to become doctors, and without intentional efforts, this trend is not one that will change anytime soon.

Michael Eric Dyson spoke about the plight of black boys while speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus. He mentioned suffering from generational poverty, racial profiling from an early age, educational systems that place them in remedial classes and suspends them at a rate twice that of whites for the same violations, as well as disproportionate incarceration rates as obstacles that have to be overcome.

It is a wonder that any black males make it to the point of being prepared to become physicians, but yet we rise.