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'Adversity scores' to boost medical school diversity? It would ‘ignore' patients' best interests, says expert

After the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that it is unconstitutional for educational institutions to use race as a factor for college admissions, some medical schools reportedly are looking into other ways to try to bring in a diverse study body.

One so-called idea is the notion of considering adversity when weighing applicants. 

President Biden himself said after the Supreme Court ruling, “What I propose for consideration is a new standard where colleges take into account the adversity a student has overcome when selecting among qualified applicants.”

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“In other words, the student must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race,” Roberts added, in his majority opinion.

Diverse medical class at UC Davis

One medical school, the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), has gained national attention for having one of the most diverse medical school classes in the nation, although its own state banned affirmative action in 1996.

The medical school became well-known for its controversial affirmative action policies after a contentious 5-4 Supreme Court decision on June 28, 1978, when the court ruled its quota system was unconstitutional. 

The most recently admitted UC Davis medical class contains 133 students, with 84% coming from “disadvantaged” backgrounds. 

Fox News Digital reached out to UC Davis to learn more details about how it boosts diversity. The school declined to comment.

‘Race-neutral’ score

Multiple reports highlight the UC Davis socioeconomic disadvantage scale, or S.E.D, to help increase the number of students of color, especially those who come from unrepresented backgrounds.

doctor medical professional medicine

“Holistic admissions programs can help increase diversity even when race or ethnicity are not factors that can be considered,” said one individual.  (Cyberguy.com)

Every applicant is rated from 0 to 99 based on socio-economic characteristics, such as family income or education of parents, yet admissions decisions are still based on a complete evaluation combined with the “race-neutral” score.

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“Holistic admissions programs can help increase diversity even when race or ethnicity are not factors that can be considered,” he also said.

Critics of adversity scores say this minimizes individuals by crunching their life circumstances into a single score.

Also, only 0.1% practicing doctors identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, while only 0.3% are American Indian or Alaska Native.

‘Flawed notion’ for producing ‘better health care outcomes’

Others argue “adversity scoring” does not usher in the best and brightest physicians.

“Medical school does not exist to ameliorate society’s problems. It exists to create competent physicians,” Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, board chair of Do No Harm based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, told Fox News Digital.

“To feel that individuals who have overcome some prior difficulties in their life have a unique right to become physicians simply ignores the best interest of patients.”

“It does not prevent taking socioeconomic class into account,” added Kang, who is also UCLA’s founding vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.

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“Any good faith measure of an individual’s overcoming adversity, whether it be qualitative or quantitative, may be considered in the admissions process.”

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