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In the USA, there are well-described racial disparities in medical care with black patients, as well as other racial and ethnic minorities, consistently faring worse than white patients across specialties and diagnoses.1 Similar disparities have been found among black and minority ethnic patients in the UK.2 ,3 A 2002 report by the USA Institute of Medicine (IOM) determined that the ‘quality of care received by racial and ethnic minorities in this country is generally lower than that provided to the majority population’,1 and persistent racial discrimination and bias contribute to poor health outcomes. In the decade that has followed the IOM report, few racial disparities have been eliminated, even as access to health services has improved.4
Medical schools and teaching hospitals—with their focus on training future doctors, providing patient care and conducting clinical research—have an important role to play in addressing racial disparities and improving healthcare quality. There is ample evidence that increasing the diversity of the physician workforce to better reflect the diversity of the general population—in particular by training and hiring greater numbers of providers from under-represented racial and ethnic backgrounds—directly benefits patients, medical students and …
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