Salvo 10.22.2021 10 minutes

Woke Medicine’s Critical Harm

Doctors covering mouth, ears and eyes in hospital

The American Medical Association has fallen into Marxist lockstep with Critical Race Theory.

As part of the American Medical Association’s (AMA) equity plan to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the powerful lobbying group is sponsoring 100 virtual screenings of Black Men in White Coats. The thesis of this film—which improbably boasts the U.S. Army and Navy as “corporate sponsors”—is that blacks will “continue dying” unless there are more black doctors.

The AMA apparently believes there is a link between the underrepresentation of blacks among physicians, and the capacity of doctors of other races to care for black patients. Whites are also underrepresented among physicians. Yet, neither the documentary nor the AMA view this disparity as cause for a similar concern.

Black Men in White Coats is emblematic of how America’s oldest and most prestigious professional organization has adopted a radical agenda that places health care at risk by subordinating merit, individual empowerment, professional standards, and the Hippocratic Oath to “first do no harm.”

The lingua franca of Critical Race Theory and Marxism permeate the AMA’s web site and policy statements, which call for “disrupting and dismantling existing norms” as a key goal. Last April, the AMA “applauded” the Centers for Disease Control “for formally recognizing racism as a public health threat,” adding that the AMA’s own House of Delegates had made this official recognition in 2020.

Just four days after the American Bar Association announced that it would require all law schools in the United States to implement DEI, the AMA released its Organizational Strategic Plan to Embed Racial Justice and Advance Health Equity. The AMA’s dogmatic, Marxist manifesto proclaims “it is common that discussions in the field of equity begin with the recognition that our current state was built on the land and labors of others in ways that violated the fundamental principles of equity. Another distinction of the equity field, which essentially is an extension of this land and labor acknowledgment, is to initiate discussion with recognition of the specific harms of the past including those of the more recent past (termed ‘truth and reconciliation’).”

Indeed, the doctors are demanding a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and reparations. And, they want those policies to be integrated into all medical education, hospitals and the practice of medicine.

The Strategic Plan complains, among its many imponderables, that the use of calculators and artificial intelligence is racist and demands “just representation of Black, Indigenous and Latinx people in medical school admissions as well as medical school and hospital leadership ranks.”

The Strategic Plan details action items within AMA’s control (such as equity hiring, training and policies for all AMA business units), and others for which the AMA is prepared to use its significant coercive power (such as requiring equity in all health care institutions, systems and organizations). The AMA insists that “mandatory anti-racism, structural competence, and equity-explicit training and competencies” must be adopted in medical education, along with “publicly reported equity assessments.”

The AMA is seeking to transform America. With its Center for Health Equity, a Chief Health Equity Officer, and countless seminars and publications, the AMA has an “unwavering commitment to equity and a comprehensive strategy for embedding racial and social justice within our organization and domains of influence.”

Sounding like a Weather Underground or Jonestown broadsheet, the AMA’s Strategic Plan seeks absolution, proclaiming:

We acknowledge that we are all living off the taken ancestral lands of Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. We acknowledge the extraction of brilliance, energy and life for labor forced upon people of African descent for more than 400 years. We celebrate the resilience and strength that all Indigenous people and descendants of Africa have shown in this country and worldwide. We carry our ancestors in us, and we are continually called to be better as we lead this work….

We envision a nation in which…all physicians are equipped with the consciousness, tools and resources to confront inequities and dismantle white supremacy, racism, and other forms of exclusion….

Our bold and necessary path forward seeks to pivot …to specific action supported by resource redistribution…(Emphasis in original)

Achieving optimally equitable solutions requires disruption and dismantling of existing norms, collective advocacy, and action across sectors and disciplines.

In sum, the AMA intends to remake the 18 percent of the U.S. economy comprising its health sector by imposing a Marxist, racialized vision of a pure society.

The AMA has ruthlessly suppressed any debate of its policies.

For example, earlier this year, when Edward Livingston, then a deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association, criticized the concept of structural racism in health care, the AMA terminated him and AMA CEO James Madara released a vindictive public statement accusing Dr. Livingston of hosting a “harmful” podcast. Just weeks later, the Journal’s editor-in-chief also was forced out.

In a rare dissent, Dr. Michelle Cretella, executive director of the American College of Pediatricians, told The Daily Citizen that the AMA’s proposed strategic plan “is rooted not in science and the medical ethics of the Hippocratic Oath but in a host of Marxist ideologies that devalue the lives of our most vulnerable patients and seek to undermine the nuclear family which is the single most critical institution to child well-being.”

Who Will be Permitted to Become Doctors under the AMA Plan?

In order to achieve the equality of outcome envisioned by the AMA, major changes will be required in medical school admissions and health care employment. These changes will be painful for many and the side effects even worse.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, for medical students who matriculated in the 2020-2021 school year:

  • 44.7 percent were white; 21.6 percent, Asian; 8 percent, black; and 11 percent, Hispanic. (The Hispanic number might double count some white and black students);
  • Mean GPA was 3.77 for whites and Asians; 3.53 for blacks; and 3.62 for Hispanics; and
  • Mean total MCAT was 512.2 for whites; 513.8 for Asians; 505.7 for blacks; and 506.6 for Hispanics.

The difference between the white/Asian scores and the black/Hispanic scores is significant, at nearly one standard deviation for both MCATs and GPAs. Hence, a substantial portion of the black and Hispanic students scored below the substantial majority of white and Asian students. The AMA’s statistics on medical school applicants indicates that many whites and Asians who were rejected likely outscored many of the blacks and Hispanics who were admitted.

The U.S. Medical Licensing Exam (USMLE) is used to assess selection for residency programs. A review published in 2020 found that blacks and Hispanics performed poorly, with about one-third scoring above the mean, though Hispanics outperformed blacks. A recent Journal of the AMA study concluded that whites were materially more likely to take and pass surgery boards than blacks and Hispanics.

Given that admission cut-offs for many black and Hispanic medical students are already below the cut-offs for most whites and Asians, and the barriers to expanding medical school capacity, regardless of whether the AMA views the “base” as all Americans, college graduates, or merely applicants, the AMA cannot achieve equity in medical schools, let alone hospitals or practice groups, without reducing standards. Digging even deeper into the applicant pool in order to maximize demographic equity will benefit only ideologues for whom racial balance is more important than merit, medical care, or the emotional well-being of minority students.

Because equity is based on percentages, the overall number of medical students and health care professionals will have to be cut in order to achieve parity. Once the maximum number of plausibly qualified minority candidates are accepted or hired, it will be necessary to disenfranchise and lay off capable, caring whites and Asians. That would plunge health care into chaos.

For some scary examples of what can happen when physicians and hospitals err, see here and here. With equity as the Holy Grail, far worse is certain.

The AMA Strategic Plan quotes Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who said “There is a moment where you have to choose to be silent or stand up.” This could not be more correct. We must identify and address the deficiencies in K-12 education that are failing blacks and Hispanics. Skipping the hard work and ignoring reality re-victimizes minority students and society at large.

Racism is an ugly direction in which to move America. Marxism has failed every place it has been tried, and always at the cost of great human harm. The politicization of one of the few institutions still respected by most Americans will prove no different.

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

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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