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Salvo 12.01.2022 4 minutes

DEI in the ER

Emergency sign

Rising wokeness in medical schools is a problem for patients everywhere.  

Contrary to popular belief, the United States is no longer home to the best education system in the world. According to the World Top 20 Project, an international organization that gathers educational data from more than 200 countries, the U.S. lags well behind countries like Finland, Denmark, and South Korea. From elementary schools to colleges and universities, the U.S. education system is in crisis. Academic standards have drastically slipped, with a woke madness gripping classrooms across the country. And no school is immune—not even the most prestigious medical schools in America. 

In September, Stanley Goldfarb, a UPenn medical school professor, warned Americans that “anti-racism” policies have lowered admission and teaching standards, corrupting the world of medicine. Instead of focusing on recruiting the “best and brightest,” Goldfarb argued that an increasing number of medical schools are more interested in picking students based on their skin color. The blame for these recent shifts should be laid at the feet of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.  

For the uninitiated, DEI focuses on building diverse workplaces and classrooms, on creating environments that are equitable and inclusive. To many, this sounds like progress. But on closer inspection, DEI is dangerous and unmeritocratic. Accidents of birth like race, sex, and ethnicity are the only things that matter in a world where DEI reigns supreme. As Goldfarb shows, these initiatives punish white and Asian applicants. Contrary to the ideology that underlies DEI, individual academic achievement and the ability to finance are the only things that should matter when applying for medical school.  

Of course, medical schools aren’t alone in their desire to eliminate certain groups from the academic equation. It’s one thing when a high-achieving individual is forbidden from entering a MBA program, but it’s quite another when he or she is prevented from entering a medical school. Medicine deals in matters of life and death, and a healthy country requires medical professionals of the highest standards. In other words, the “best” and the “brightest.” 

The push to make medical schools go woke is also creating a dangerous environment for professors. It has become common for students at top medical schools to berate tenured professors, forbidding them from using inoffensive, entirely logical terms like “pregnant woman” and “breastfeeding.” For those who laugh at such developments, just do a quick thought experiment: the people policing language today could be your doctor tomorrow. Not so funny now, is it? 

Fortunately, some doctors are working to halt and reverse the rise of wokeness in the field of medicine. Goldfarb is the chairman of Do No Harm, a national association of medical professionals dedicated to protecting the healthcare system from nefarious ideologies. According to its website, the organization is “united by a moral mission” to combat “radical, divisive, and discriminatory” agendas. The members have quite a task on their hands—as its website notes, 72 percent of top-ranked medical schools have injected woke ideology into their programs, which undoubtedly poses a grave threat to the country.  

I reached out to the people at Do No Harm for comment on the matter. Peter R. Robbio, Goldfarb’s colleague, told me that the organization is focused on fixing the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), a nonprofit that oversees the country’s academic medicine community. Robbio said that AAMC must be stopped from “injecting identity politics in the hiring process for medical school professors, requiring agreement with identity politics as a prerequisite for tenure, and making it part of the admission requirements for future doctors.” The AAMC, he continued, is only interested in “recruiting and creating activists,” not “great medical professionals.” He’s right. Take a look at AAMC’s first-ever report on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Medical Schools,” which makes for a rather alarming read. The report, which has received very little coverage, clearly demonstrates “just how deep woke ideology has infected medical schools,” according to Robbio.  

Some highlights from AAMC’s report include: 

  • Faculty Litmus Tests: 43 percent of medical schools “have promotion and tenure policies that specifically reward faculty scholarship and service on DEI topics.” 
  • Political Advocacy: 75 percent “advocate for policies and/or legislation at a local, state, or federal level related to its diversity, inclusion, and equity mission.” 
  • Affirmative Action: 100 percent “have admissions policies and practices for encouraging a diverse class of students (e.g., holistic admissions policy).” 
  • Diversity over Merit in Faculty Hires: 67 percent “require departments/units to assemble a diverse pool of candidates for faculty positions.” 
  • Wasting Money: 85 percent have “taken action to modify communications, branding, icons, or displays” to better reflect DEI goals, etc. 
  • Politicized Leadership: 99 percent of “institutional leaders [are] active within local, regional, and national forums to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.” 
  • Doubling Down: 85 percent of “senior leaders used demographic data to promote change within the institution/ school.” 

As more medical schools hop on the diversity train, more Americans are in danger of putting their lives in the hands of ill-trained doctors. The country’s healthcare sector is already a hot mess. Reckless, unscientific, unmeritocratic initiatives are making things considerably worse. 

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

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