If the mission of the Association of American Medical Colleges is clear--"to change the face of medicine to reflect the face of America," said Dr. Charles Terrell, the group's vice president for diversity policy and programs, at the opening of AAMC's recent conference on career development for minority faculty--then another fact is equally clear: The barriers are high.
Racial and ethnic minorities--especially African-Americans, Latinos of Mexican American and Puerto Rican descent and American Indians--are a small proportion of academic faculty at U.S. medical schools, a proportion that appears to be growing at only a glacial pace, Terrell said. American academic medicine, he continued, seems to be "afraid of the dark."
Indeed, while Whites comprise 76.3 percent of the general population, they make up more than 79 percent of all medical faculty and nearly 89 percent of all full professors in academic medicine, said Dr. Denise Cora-Bramble, executive director of the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Minorities, meanwhile, are more than 23 percent of the population, but only hold 4.9 percent of all medical faculty positions and 2.2 percent of full-time positions.
None of this, of course, was exactly news to the men and women gathered at the Georgetown University conference center for AAMC's annual Minority Faculty Career Development Seminar.
The group--mostly composed of mid-career faculty but also including a sprinkling …