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The Importance of the Premedical Experience in Diversifying the Health Care Workforce

Morgan, Helen K. MD; Haggins, Adrianne MD, MS; Lypson, Monica L. MD, MHPE; Ross, Paula PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001404

In light of national calls for increased diversity in medicine, it is critical for academic medicine to remain actively engaged in the conversation about the value of diversity in higher education, specifically for students from underrepresented backgrounds. Too often, the undergraduate premedical experience is excluded from conversations about diversity in medicine. The undergraduate premedical experience, however, is a critical junction for many students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine, especially for those who enter college underprepared for the academic rigor of the premedical experience.

In this Commentary, the authors describe the data that currently exist about the premedical experience for underrepresented students. They posit that academic medicine needs to be involved in promoting success for undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds, especially given the known societal and educational benefits of a diverse physician workforce. The authors reference the University of Michigan Health Sciences Scholars Program (HSSP) as an example of a partnership between the medical school and the undergraduate campus. HSSP uses higher education best practices known to promote success for underprepared college students. Innovative collaborations between academic medicine and higher education such as HSSP have the potential to increase the diversity of students who are able to matriculate into the health professions. Finally, the authors review issues related to the programming needed to support success for these students.

H.K. Morgan is clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology and learning health sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was director, Health Sciences Scholars Program, from 2013 to 2016.

A. Haggins is clinical lecturer, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

M.L. Lypson is associate chief of staff for education, VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, and professor, Departments of Internal Medicine and Learning Health Sciences, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

P. Ross is director of advancing scholarship, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Funding/Support: None reported.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: Reported as not applicable.

Disclaimer: The contents of this publication do not represent the view of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. Government.

Previous presentations: Parts of this work were presented at the American Association of Colleges and Universities Diversity Conference, March 2015, San Diego, California.

Correspondence should be addressed to Helen K. Morgan, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan Medical School, 1500 E. Medical Center Dr., L4000 Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI 48109; telephone: (734) 936-3110; e-mail:; Twitter: @helenjkmorgan.

© 2016 by the Association of American Medical Colleges