Where Medical Schools Go to DIE

Marina Ziemnick

CounterCurrent: Week of 3/20


A couple of months ago, I wrote to you about the organization “White Coats for Black Lives,” which has worked for nearly a decade to push its ideological agenda on American medical practice. Thanks to its efforts, medical schools across the country have adopted anti-racism initiatives that embed progressive ideologies into their curricula and force students and faculty to espouse the dogmas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (commonly referred to as “DEI,” although we prefer the more accurate rendering: “DIE”). 

The onslaught against traditional medical education is not just a piecemeal effort: it is now being encouraged by top-down mandates from medical associations.

The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently announced that it will be releasing a set of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Competencies” that will establish additional standards for medical schools across the country. AAMC competencies are used by medical schools to design curricula for current medical students and for physicians enrolled in “continuing medical education” courses, which are required to fulfill annual licensing requirements in most states. Although schools are not required to follow AAMC competencies to the letter, most schools use the competencies as guidelines to ensure that their curricula will satisfy accreditors.

National Association of Scholars Research Associate John D. Sailer obtained a pre-publication copy of the new AAMC DIE competencies. Among (many) other things, the competencies require students to demonstrate knowledge of intersectionality and of systems of “power, privilege, and oppression,” and they require faculty to actively lead the promotion of social justice. The document concludes with a glossary of terms to ensure that everyone is on the same page about the meaning of words such as “equity” (as you might guess, they don’t mean the value of shares issued by IBM). 

Requirements of this sort ensure that the only successful medical students and faculty are those who fully endorse the progressive orthodoxy—or those who strategically self-censor in order to “pass” as supporters of DIE. Either way, the requirements will lead to rigid ideological conformity within the medical community. Those who speak out or have research hypotheses that question the reigning ideology will face professional hurdles throughout their careers. 

In this week’s featured article, Sailer highlights the most concerning portions of the draft competencies and outlines the danger that they pose to the integrity of medical education. He writes: 

These are only draft competencies, subject to change, but they would require enormous revisions to bypass obvious concerns about ideological conformity and academic freedom. Already, such terms as “social justice” and “equity” connote ideological commitments with which many students and faculty members disagree. But the competencies go further than merely implying extreme ideologies: they require students and faculty to actively view the world through the lens of oppression and embrace the concept of intersectionality. They call on faculty to disrupt “oppressive practices,” and they include “assimilation” in their list of “systems of oppression.” Moreover, all the competencies are subject to interpretation—professors and administrators who consider themselves social justice activists can apply them stringently.

AAMC’s new DIE competencies are not only unrelated to the actual practice of medicine—if implemented, they will actively decrease the quality of American medical care. A patient who is suffering from an undiagnosed ailment needs a doctor who can diagnose and cure him, not one who will determine what form of treatment to use based on his position within the intersectionality hierarchy. 

We should always guard against attacks on academic freedom and oppose attempts to enforce ideological conformity. But the stakes are even higher when the physical health of our nation and families is on the line. Let’s hope that America’s top doctors and medical professors ignore the AAMC and maintain their focus on caring for patients first and foremost. 

Until next week.

P.S. In other news, the California Community College System is proposing political litmus tests for professor reviews, promotions, and for future hires. And yes, it is as bad as it sounds.


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

Photo by Paul Becker (Becker1999) on Flicker // CC BY 2.0

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