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Philly med school will pursue ‘diverse workforce’ through scholarships, special programs

But medical doctor questions the plans

A Philadelphia medical school says it wants to create a “diverse workforce” by attracting students through special scholarships, mentoring, and other programs.

But in comments to The College Fix, a medical doctor criticized the idea that matching patients and doctors by race is beneficial.

The new dean of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University medical school says racial minority healthcare professionals can “alleviate health disparity,” according to a report paraphrasing his comments.

“One of the things that I intend to do is make the case that we need a diverse workforce and students, Dr. Said Ibrahim told WHYY, a PBS affiliate.

“He plans to recruit at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and other diverse institutions, and create mentoring and other programs and scholarships to achieve that goal,” WHYY reported.

It is based on the American Medical Association’s view that a more diverse medical force “improves health outcomes.”

The medical school’s media relations team has not responded to requests for comment sent in the past several weeks that asked about how the school will solve “health disparities.” The Fix asked last week about the legality of scholarships targeted on the basis of race.

But the former associate dean of the University of Pennsylvania medical school questioned Ibrahim’s comments.

There is “no evidence that race predicts success,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, chairman of Do No Harm, told The Fix via media statement.

His group also conducted a review of literature on race-matching and found a lack of evidence. “While advocates point to a small number of studies, they are generally cherry-picked and decisively outweighed by the full body of scientific research on the topic,” the report stated.

Goldfarb stated, “there are five systematic reviews of the issue of racial concordance between physicians and patients and four out of the five demonstrate no benefit for having such concordance. The fifth one is inconclusive.”

He said offering scholarships to increase racial diversity will “inevitably” excluded “more qualified individuals.”

“Patients want the best physicians available no matter what their color and no matter what their ethnicity,” Goldfarb, a nephrologist by training, said.

Civil liberties group suggests legal problems

There could also be legal problems with the medical school’s plans, according to Ed Bartlett with Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a civil liberties group.

“‘Diversity’ has become the new religion in higher education,” Bartlett told The Fix.

“Dr. Ibrahim will do well to check with his university attorneys to make sure he is not violating federal law,” before implementing his plans, Bartlett said.

He referred The Fix to the university’s “Summer Training & Enrichment Program for Underrepresented Persons in Medicine,” which excludes white students.

According to an article by Do No Harm, the program is in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Although Do No Harm filed complaints that prompted an investigation in 2023, the summer program is still open for applications in 2024.

Goldfarb told The Fix a “fair approach” that would also be legal is to give scholarships based on “economic adversity that students have overcome rather than racial characteristics.”

MORE: Think tank will ‘monitor’ compliance with affirmative action ban

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About the Author
Mary Noble -- Christendom College.