The rise of progressive activism in medicine will have serious consequences

In early October, the university I graduated from made headlines after it decided to fire chemistry professor Dr. Maitland Jones Jr. because of a petition from from his students that his organic chemistry class was “too difficult”. Students accused Jones of making the class difficult on purpose, mentioning that his low grades had a negative impact on his “well-being” and his chances of getting into medical school. Instead of evaluating the rigor and tenor of Jones’ curriculum, NYU (New York University) justified its hasty action by citing unfavorable student assessments for the classes. That kind of judgment would never happen in the fields of architecture, aerospace engineering, or even the food service industry; why is it permissible here?

In response to the disciplinary action, former professor of medical humanities and bioethicist Dr. Alice Dreger harshly criticized the decision on Twitter, saying that “it was hair-raising.”

“We are not going to have good doctors letting graduate students who want to majoring in medicine pass organic chemistry because universities want to protect their position in the US News ranking,” she said.

The reaction is justified, considering how courses to enter medicine and even medical schools have shifted in the direction of equity and social justice. It seems that even professors fail to maintain academic performance standards, when the institutions they teach at demote the importance of standards to the second category to accommodate student sensitivities based on how guilty or victimized they feel while being trained in the field. very competitive and demanding of medicine.

Urgent concern for medicine

The rise of efforts to increase diversity in medical schools can be seen as stemming from good intentions: to create an academic environment that promotes minority doctors, especially those who come from underserved communities. Having a diversification of health professionals is beneficial, especially if such physicians use their skills and talents to help communities that are in need of medical care, such as poor neighborhoods and remote rural communities.

Advocates of more outreach policies cite studies such as the AAMC (American Association of Medical Colleges) report, titled “Changing the Course: Black Men in Medicine,” which notes the drop in the number of applicants. blacks from 1.410 in 410 to 1.337 in 2014. They could also point to a Yale study that found that minority students are less likely to win places in medical residency programs than their white or Asian counterparts.

[revista médica] These seem to be pressing issues that must be dealt with if medical schools are to increase the success rate of black and brown students. However, rather than working on expanding mentoring and training programs and outreach initiatives, it appears that universities and medical schools want to focus narrowly on the intersectional aspects of this research. [Interseccionalidade é uma proposta do progressismo identitário acadêmico segundo a qual a identidade de uma mulher negra, por exemplo, que é uma intersecção entre “mulher” e “negra”, é mais oprimida que cada uma dessas identidades isoladas. N. do T.]

The rise of intersectionality in medicine

The leader of the Yale study cited above, Mytien Nguyen, stated:

“In previous studies, we only really looked at one dimension of identity, but there is intersectionality and the accumulation of multiple marginalized identities… we want to see how these identities acted in the enrollment process… there is a clear accumulation effect of being an underrepresented student in medicine and being low-income… there is a double combination in terms of how class and racialized medicine is.”

Nguyen states that it is not clear what contributes to the lower insertion of marginalized students, but still she failed to consider how a myriad of other factors, such as a lack of mentors in medicine, limited financial resources, and different cultural perceptions of medical work, might contribute to this phenomenon. Returning to the AAMC report, it is important to note that while the number of black male applicants has indeed dropped over the decades, the report also shows that the overall number of black medical students actually has risen from 933 in 1978 for 1. 2026 on 2014 — an increase of 410 %.

This is a welcome statistic that could improve if colleges give more access to opportunities during high school and training for admission testing to marginalized communities.

Unfortunately, institutions like NYU have set themselves the task of low-leveling admission through intersectional incentives rather than to apply academic standards—which we all agree are necessary to have confident and cautious future doctors.

A Religion of Resentments[revista médica]

The shift from education based on medicine to a An emphasis on race and social concern was highlighted by former dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine Stanley Goldfarb, who stated:

“…Today, a master’s degree in education is often sufficient as a qualification for important administrative roles among staff in medical schools. The zeitgeist of sociology and social work became the driving force of medical education. The goal of today’s educators is to produce legions of primary care physicians who participate in what is conventionally called ‘population health’.”

The management of the faculties of medicine seem to have been taken up by sociologists and critical race theorists — if not in titles, certainly in practice.

Recently, in the news, the University of of Minnesota conducted a smock ceremony for the graduates of 2014 in which each student was required to recite a modified Hippocratic Oath that — in addition to the promise to do no harm and to help the sick whenever possible—would honor “all Indigenous modes of healing that have been historically marginalized by Western medicine, …white supremacy, colonialism, and the gender binary.”

The politicization of medicine has greater consequences than just this kind of political exhibitionism. Rather than emphasizing or promoting preventive care and treatment based on true medical effectiveness, the impetus behind the actions of these medical schools appears to be completely race-based. For example, Georgetown University is funding the study and training of courses to prevent “microaggressions” in medicine. [“Microagressões” são um termo acadêmico que descreve os sentimentos de ofensa de pessoas de grupos discriminados por deslizes verbais de pessoas mais “privilegiadas” ao seu redor. Uma das “microagressões” mais citadas é perguntar sobre a origem de uma pessoa de aparência estrangeira. N. do T.]

Similarly, the American Association of Medical Colleges has published a new guideline for teaching medicine that requires students to acquire “competencies” in “ white privilege”, under penalty of disapproval. It also seeks to move away from the ideas of gender and race, the latter described by the AAMC as “… a social construction that is the cause of inequalities in health and health care”. If that is the case, then how will clinicians deal with the high frequency of sickle cell anemia and multiple myeloma in African-American communities, the prevalence of diabetes in groups of Asian origin, or the largely unknown effects of therapies? hormones in minors?

The practical consequences of this strategy

This dramatic shift in course standards to shape medicine through a racial lens is worrisome. While proponents of such measures argue that they are crucial to improving race relations in medicine and to deconstructing students’ “implicit biases”, saving lives and providing excellent preventive care is above that.

An analysis by [revista médica] BMJ found that medical errors in care facilities are astonishingly common and may even be the third leading cause of death in the United States. Medical error explains about 251 a thousand deaths a year — more than accidents, strokes, Alzheimer’s and respiratory problems:

A doctor’s most important duty to his/her patient is to do no harm – this includes preventing negligence, refraining from superfluous procedures and ensuring that each treatment route is considered before conducting invasive surgery. From the decrepit conditions of hospitals to inexperienced nurses and bad doctors, the medical treatment that results in patient harm is a much more important issue than the alleged microaggressions made by resident doctors during their shifts.

The race and gender of a practicing physician should not matter if he is a skilled, capable and reasonable person at work. Therefore, it is the responsibility of universities and medical schools to uphold the rigorous standards they once had, to ensure that their students are prepared to — above all — work in very stressful and complicated medical situations. We need capable and capable doctors, period.

©2022 Foundation for Economic Education. Published with permission. Original in English.

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