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Black medical school students may perhaps be among those who help fill a predicted deficit of doctors across the country in upcoming years.

Of the 22,000 students who started medical school last fall, those who identified as Black or African American jumped 21% from 2020 to 21, based on new data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). The nonprofit association disclosed that the first-year class from last year is the largest and most diverse than any previously, per GBH News.

The rise comes after AAMC data revealed last June that the United States could see estimated shortages of “between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034.” It pointed out that it could contain shortfalls in primary and specialty care.

“We have never seen such an increase within a short amount of time,” said Norma Poll-Hunter, who leads workforce diversity efforts at the AAMC, told GBH News. She mentioned research that reveals that patients are more inclined to identify better with their care when their doctors resemble them across all races.
Yet, AAMC data shows that just 5% of the nation’s doctors are Black.
“When Black physicians, male physicians are working with Black male patients, we see better outcomes in preventative care or on cardiac care,” Poll-Hunter told GBH News. “We’ve also seen that in terms of infant mortality, as well.”
Several factors are fueling the uptick of Black medical students. They include COVID-19, the George Floyd murder, and growing health disparities for Black Americans, observers say. They add schools are implementing new ways to attract and trim medical college-entry barriers for students of color.
However, the excessive cost of medical school is a snag to luring students of color. According to GBH News, graduates on average end school with over $240,000 in debt

“We perpetuate that issue because we give scholarships for merit and not scholarships for need,” said Dr. Cedric Bright, dean of admissions at East Carolina University’s medical school, told GBH News.

“We’ve got to find ways to decrease the cost of medical school.”

This content was originally published here.

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