The AAMC Prescribes a Daily Dose of DEI

Marina Ziemnick

CounterCurrent: Week of 7/17


Back in March, I wrote to you about the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) proposed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) curriculum standards, which threatened to curtail the academic freedom of medical students and faculty and to politicize medical education nationwide. At the time, the standards were only in draft form, and it was still possible that the AAMC would reverse course, or at least tone down the language in response to the fierce criticism the proposal received.

Of course, the odds of that happening were about as good as the odds I have of winning the lottery. And now, almost four months later exactly, I can report that the AAMC has done…(drumroll, please)…exactly what everyone expected and has left the DEI competencies virtually unchanged.

Yes, that’s right, the AAMC has completely ignored all criticism and has doubled-down on its radical agenda, consequences be damned.

The now-official curriculum standards take the form of “DEI competencies,” which outline the skills that are required at each stage of a physician’s education. Graduating medical students, for instance, must be able to “describe the impact of various systems of oppression on health and health care (e.g., colonization, White supremacy, acculturation, assimilation)” and to “demonstrate knowledge of the intersectionality of a patient’s identities and how each identity may result in varied and multiple forms of oppression or privilege.” Graduating residents are expected to go one step further by “promot[ing] social justice,” “engag[ing] in efforts to eliminate health care disparities,” and “practic[ing]...allyship.” To be deemed “competent,” medical school faculty must “role model anti-racism in medicine and teaching, including strategies grounded in critical understanding of unjust systems of oppression.”

The AAMC’s DEI competencies function as a guide rather than a mandate. However, medical schools across the country have shown that they are more than eager to incorporate DEI programming into their curricula, helped along by organizations such as the AAMC—and prodded a bit more firmly by accreditation bodies such as the Liaison Committee on Medical Education and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Mandatory or not, the AAMC’s new DEI competencies underscore the changing tides in medical education as a whole. In a joint op-ed introducing the standards, AAMC President David Skorton and Chair of the AAMC Council of Deans Henri Ford declared that the topic of diversity, equity, and inclusion “deserves just as much attention from learners and educators at every stage of their careers as the latest scientific breakthroughs” [emphasis added]. It goes without saying that such a mindset threatens the integrity of medical science as a whole, regardless of how many schools implement the AAMC’s standards.

In this week’s featured article, National Association of Scholars Research Fellow John D. Sailer, who broke the initial story about the DEI competencies back in March, outlines the threat the AAMC standards pose both to academic freedom and to American medical education. He writes:

Concepts such as “intersectionality” and “allyship” connote substantive political positions; to declare that faculty and students must embrace them clearly violates academic freedom. But perhaps more significantly, these concepts are often interpreted idiosyncratically to enforce a narrow and damaging orthodoxy. At medical schools that adopt the competencies, it will undoubtedly become harder for students and faculty to voice support for a meritocracy or skepticism toward “gender-affirming care” for minors. Such views, after all, are commonly labeled “oppressive.” …

The AAMC’s DEI competencies will hamper free expression, politicize medical education, encourage physicians to engage in misbegotten activism, and in the longer run, lead to substantively harmful policies. We should hope that students and faculty alike speak up and reject them.

America’s medical students—not to mention their patients—deserve more than a politically slanted education. The AAMC already passed on the opportunity to do better. Let’s hope that the students and faculty at America’s medical schools will step off the bandwagon and take a stand for our health.

Until next week.

P. S. Science is under siege at more than just medical schools. Even long-respected institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have begun to abandon science in favor of radical ideology. To hear more about the plight of modern science, tune in to our webinar “Science in an Age of Unreason” this Friday at 3 pm ET. Register online today


CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications Associate Marina Ziemnick. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Roberto Sorin, Public Domain

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