Race-based Admission to Medical Schools Was Dangerous. Good Riddance.

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Medical schools have been admitting unqualified or barely qualified applicants and dumbing down class content and graduation standards.

Admissions policies at universities are going to change — for the better. Race-driven admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina are unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the 6-3 majority, said the two programs "unavoidably employ race in a negative manner" and "involve racial stereotyping," thereby violating the U.S. Constitution.

The detrimental effects of race-based admissions policies in medical schools have been evident for decades.

When I entered medical school at the University of California, San Diego, in the 1970s, a requirement for graduation was to pass both parts of the medical board exams, the "medboards." Part One tested knowledge of basic science; Part Two of clinical medicine. For several years, the medical school had conducted an aggressive program of recruiting and admitting underqualified minority students who, it turned out, were able to scrape by on Part One, but many were failing Part Two.

That was not a surprise. Grades on our regular class exams were posted, not by students' names but as curves. Ordinarily, you would expect the grades to fall in what's called a "standard normal distribution" that looks something like this. Instead, the distribution was often more like this. That implied, correctly, that the scores represented two distinct populations, and we quickly ascertained that the lower distribution consisted of the underqualified minority students.

Instead of tightening the admissions criteria, the administration's response was to lower the graduation requirement to passing Part One and just taking, but not necessarily passing, Part Two. Nary a peep was heard from the faculty.

This sort of manipulation at medical schools has not been uncommon.

Stanley Goldfarb, M.D., a retired dean for curriculum and co-director of the renal division at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of Medicine, recently wrote an important article in the Free Press. Its theme is that medical schools' woke diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda, which "promotes people and policies based on race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation rather than merit," is undermining medical care.

He criticized the trend toward allowing "social justice" considerations to play a dominant role in medical schools' admissions and curriculum.

Dr. Goldfarb wrote:

The university [of Pennsylvania] also implemented a new " pipeline program ," allowing ten students a year from HBCUs (historically black colleges or universities) to attend its med school after maintaining a 3.6 GPA but no other academic requirement, including not taking the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). And the university has also created a project called Penn Medicine and the Afterlives of Slavery Project (PMAS) in order to "reshape medical education. . . by creating social justice-informed medical curricula that use race critically and in an evidence-based way to train the next generation of race-conscious physicians." Finally, twenty clinical departments at the medical school now have vice chairs for diversity and inclusion .

Never mind that the "pipeline program" clearly contravenes the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which guarantees equal treatment under the law — not results — and various civil rights laws that bar all discrimination based on race, color, or creed, not just "bad" discrimination. It should be teed up for a forthcoming court challenge.

Since his retirement, Goldfarb has become an anti-discrimination activist, attempting to ensure the fairness of medical education and that the most qualified people are chosen to become physicians.

He published a book, Take Two Aspirin and Call Me By My Pronouns, and started a nonprofit called Do No Harm, whose purpose is "to combat discriminatory practices in medicine." The organization has filed dozens of complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights, which exists in large part to investigate schools that discriminate based on race, color, ethnicity, sex, age, or disability.

Admissions policies based on racial quotas have proliferated among educational institutions over the years, but this is about to change. That's a good thing.

Consider this: When you're admitted to the hospital for complicated cardiac or neurosurgery, do you want it done by the most competent and accomplished surgeon or by one admitted to medical school and residency because he or she was a member of an underrepresented group?

An earlier version of this article was published in the Washington Examiner.