Michael Prislin, MD, Associate Dean, Student Affairs at the University of California Irvine will present the 17th J. Jerry Rodos Lecture to the 22nd National Conference on Primary Health Care Access. His lecture will examine national and institutional policies that affect the composition of classes admitted into American medical schools.
Presentation Summary: While reimbursement reform efforts such as the Affordable Healthcare Act offer many more Americans potential access to care, having a sufficient number of well trained health providers to meet primary care demands remains an unrealized element of broader healthcare reform. Thus, changing the current paradigm requires not only an expansion of the workforce but also a significant reorientation of educational priorities.
Although current efforts are underway to expand the number of physicians being trained, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests truly addressing access issues will require that the physician workforce be derived from diverse socioeconomic, ethnic and geographic backgrounds.
Today seventy five percent of U.S. medical students come from families whose income is in the upper two quintiles. This reality impacts students well before they get to medical school. Most students entering medical school complete their undergraduate education at a relatively small number of highly selective colleges and universities, and students entering these institutions must, in turn, have access during their high school years to enrichment programs such as advanced placement coursework, tutors, and SAT preparation classes– enrichment programs activities that are often limited to children raised in more affluent communities.
In order to change this trend, efforts must be mounted to alter the pipeline supplying students to U.S. medical schools, alter the criteria that those schools use to select their students, develop strategies to provide additional support to students from lower socioeconomic groups once they reach medical school, and finally, and perhaps most critically, create programs to make medical school a financially viable possibility for economically disadvantaged students.