Diversity in academic medicine no. 3 struggle for survival among leading diversity programs

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Abstract

Since efforts to increase the diversity of academic medicine began shortly after the Civil War, the efforts have been characterized by a ceaseless struggle of old and new programs to survive. In the 40 years after the Civil War, the number of minority-serving institutions grew from 2 to 9, and then the number fell again to 2 in response to an adverse evaluation by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. For 50 years, the programs grew slowly, picking up speed only after the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s. From 1987 through 2005, they expanded rapidly, fueled by such new federal programs as the Centers of Excellence and Health Careers Opportunity Programs. Encompassing majority-white institutions as well as minority-serving institutions, the number of Centers of Excellence grew to 34, and the number of Health Careers Opportunity Programs grew to 74. Then, in 2006, the federal government cut its funding abruptly and drastically, reducing the number of Centers of Excellence and Health Careers Opportunity Programs to 4 each. Several advocacy groups, supported by think tanks, have striven to restore federal funding to previous levels, so far to no avail. Meanwhile, the struggle to increase the representation of underrepresented minorities in the health professions is carried on by the surviving programs, including the remaining Centers of Excellence and Health Careers Opportunity Programs and new programs that, funded by state, local, and private agencies, have arisen from the ashes. Mt Sinai J Med 75:504–516, © 2008 Mount Sinai School of Medicine

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