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"A Medical School Tradition Comes Under Fire For Racism" - Mara Gordon

  • NPR
  • New York, NY
  • (September 05, 2018)

Senior medical student Giselle Lynch has plenty of accomplishments to list when she applies for a coveted spot in an ophthalmology residency program this fall. But one box she won’t check on her applications is one of the highest academic awards medical students can receive, election to the honor society Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA). It’s because her medical school, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, put a moratorium on student nominations because they determined the selection process discriminates against students of color. Icahn administrators say the disparities in the selection process reflect deeper issues of racial inequality in medical education. “AOA perpetuates systems that are deeply flawed,” said David Muller, MD, the dean for medical education at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “We can't justify putting people who are historically at a disadvantage at an even greater disadvantage. It just doesn't seem fair to dangle in front of our students an honorific that we know people are not equally eligible for." The school made the change after Lynch led a group of fellow students in an effort to fight inequality at Icahn. A 2017 study in JAMA Internal Medicine showed that nationwide, black and Asian students were less likely than their white counterparts to be selected for the honor.

- David Muller, MD, Dean, Medical Education, Professor, Medicine, Medical Education, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Chair, Medical Education, Mount Sinai Health System

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