Doctors and medical professionals are warning that new guidance issued by two medical school accrediting bodies could have “disastrous” effects on the field of medicine.
Practicing doctors and medical professors are warning that guidelines and recommendations issued by the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in October would lower healthcare quality by making social justice, not merit, central in determining success in medicine, according to The Washington Free Beacon.
“Narratives that uncritically center meritocracy and individualism render invisible the very real constraints generated and reinforced by poverty, discrimination and ultimately exclusion. Yet a rich tradition of work in health equity and related fields, including critical race theory … , gender studies, disability studies, as well as scholarship from social medicine, gives us a foundation for an alternative narrative, one that challenges the status quo, one that moves health care towards justice,” the guidance says.
The AMA and AAMC are cosponsors of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which accredits all medical schools in North America. The AMA and AAMC document, titled “Advancing Health Equity: A Guide To Language, Narrative And Concepts,” also downplays how certain illnesses occur more frequently in certain populations.
One doctor, speaking to the Free Beacon, described the guidance as “disastrous” while another said, “this can kill people.”
“Some vulnerability isn’t about economic or social marginalization,” Jeff Singer, a general surgeon in Arizona, told the Free Beacon. “A lot of conditions vary based on genetics.”
He continued, “We’re talking about matters of life and death here.”
“They’re trying to superimpose social science onto medical science,” he added. “But as a consumer of health care, I’d just like to know that whoever is treating me is qualified. Because my life is on the line.”
Doctors expressed alarm over what the guidance may do to the quality of medical school students and applicants for residencies if characteristics like race and economic background become important credentials like experience and test scores.
“I’ve certainly seen residents’ intellectual capability dropping over time,” one professor, who spoke on background over fears he would be fired if he went on record, said. “Residents are just not as capable of caring for patients as they were 20 years ago.”
An Ivy League medical school professor said that he has noticed education standards lowering over time as administrators attempt to keep students with certain backgrounds from failing out of med school. “In order to get them through, the standards for everyone have been lowered,” the professor told the Free Beacon.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) language and commitments are increasingly spreading through higher education, including medical schools. The University of North Carolina School of Medicine in May overhauled its guidelines for faculty seeking promotions to include a pledge to DEI initiatives. One sample pledge reads, according to Martin Center:
As I move forward in my career, I intend to continue to include issues of equity and inclusion in my bedside teaching. I commit to annually attending a seminar offered by the University Office of Diversity and Inclusion to learn more about the intersectionality of race, gender, and sexual orientation in clinical care and medical education, and to confront my own biases and the biases of our medical culture to improve inclusivity in my environment.