One in a series "Killing Christians Through Better Medicine".

Bad Medicine, Coast to Coast

What quotas do to education.

Mr. Clegg is general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity.

June 14, 2001 9:10 a.m.


study being released today by the Center for Equal Opportunity finds strong evidence of racial and ethnic discrimination in the admissions policies of five state medical schools: the Medical College of Georgia, Michigan State College of Human Medicine, University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, State University of New York (SUNY) Brooklyn College of Medicine, and University of Washington School of Medicine. The study is posted on CEO's website,

Under any interpretation of the civil-rights laws, these schools are in likely violation. The study finds that racial and ethnic considerations are much more than a mere tiebreaker or "plus factor." Blacks and Hispanics are consistently admitted with significantly lower academic qualifications than whites and Asians.

For instance, the relative odds of admission for a black applicant over an equally qualified white or Asian applicant at SUNY Brooklyn in 1996 were 23 to 1. At Michigan State in 1999, the average black admittee had a science grade-point average that was 0.7 lower than his white counterpart's: a 2.9 rather than a 3.7. At Georgia in both years studied, there was a 6-point MCAT gap (out of 56 possible points) between blacks and whites. And so forth.

So, if you had applied for admission to the 1999 entering class at the Oklahoma College of Medicine, and you had a mean MCAT of 9.0 and an undergraduate GPA of 3.5, what was your probability of admission? It all depends on your skin color and ancestry. If you were white or Asian, your chances were only about 50-50. If you were black, Hispanic, or American Indian, then your chances were better than eight in ten.

The story for the 1999 entering class at the University of Washington is the same. For example, if you had a total MCAT of 40 and a science GPA of 3.75, your probability of admission was 67 percent if you were Hispanic - and only 28 percent if you were Asian.

Or look at it this way: Considering only in-state applicants at just four of these schools in just the two years analyzed by the study, over 3,500 individual nonblack students were rejected despite having better MCAT scores and undergraduate grades than the median black students accepted. Multiply this by the number of medical schools in the country, add in out-of-state residents who were also discriminated against because of their race, and multiply that times all the years that these preferences have been awarded - and you conclude that there have been a lot of victims of discrimination.

The study relies on information obtained from the schools themselves through freedom-of-information requests. And it comes on the heels of another CEO study, released in April, that found strong evidence of preferences for African Americans in admissions at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"We now have evidence of discrimination at six medical schools - in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West Coast," says CEO president Linda Chavez. "This is a national problem."

Never mind that today's study also indicated no cultural bias in the correlation between MCAT scores and passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE): Proponents of medical-school admissions discrimination still argue that we need more black doctors to improve the medical care for African Americans. But if there is a shortage of doctors in some communities, there are better and more direct ways of dealing with it than by assuming that all African Americans, and only African Americans, can and will be doctors for African Americans.

Chavez also noted that today's study found that students preferentially admitted with lower academic qualifications were less likely to take and pass the USMLE. She said: "Lowering medical school admission standards jeopardizes the quality of medical care for everyone, including racial and ethnic minorities." As Sally Satel - author of PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine - points out, we need good doctors for poor neighborhoods.

Chavez called on the American Medical Association to address the issue of med-school admissions bias. Coincidentally, the AMA is having its annual meeting next week in Chicago. Well, all right: The timing of the study's release is not a complete coincidence.

The authors of the 88-page report are two independent consultants, Drs. Robert Lerner and Althea Nagai. In addition to their studies of the six medical schools, CEO has also published reports by Lerner and Nagai that uncovered strong evidence of admissions discrimination at a variety of undergraduate schools, including California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Virginia, and Washington State, as well as the service academies at West Point and Annapolis. CEO, Lerner, and Nagai are working on reports about a number of law schools as well.

The proponents of admission preferences frequently argue (1) that race and ethnicity are mere pluses or tiebreakers among candidates with essentially equal qualifications and, relatedly, (2) that the students who are preferentially admitted will do just as well as the other students who are admitted. Today's study shows that neither of these two assertions is true. Those admitted according to skin color and ancestry are significantly less qualified when they start out, and they are significantly less likely to finish as successfully, too.


Affirmative Action - White males need not apply