Minority interest in Med School declining at U

Craig Gustafson

Minority student applications to the University’s Medical School have been declining in recent years, following a nationwide trend.
The under-representation of minority students is part of a total decline in Medical School applicants at the University.
Students applying for entrance in fall 1999 fell 3.7 percent from 1998. In comparison, minority students seeking enrollment dropped 10.6 percent this fall.
Over the past three years, total Medical School applicants dropped 10 percent.
“Our (applications) are down somewhat, but not as much as the rest of the nation,” said Elodia Galvan, executive secretary of the admissions office. The national decline is 11.2 percent.
Experts blame a strong economy and expanding job market as two of the factors contributing to decline in total applicants. College graduates have several alternatives to a medical career because of the growing job market.
California, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi account for nearly half the national decline in minority applications. They are four of several states who have recently legislated against affirmative-action policies.
Across the country, 38,534 people sought entrance to medical schools, only 4,176 of which were from under-represented minority groups.
Admissions officials said the four minorities considered under-represented groups nationally are: blacks, Native Americans, Mexican- Americans and Puerto Rican mainland people.
Medical schools from other regions of the country include different groups in addition to the standard four.
At the University, the Hmong community is also considered an under-represented group because the Twin Cities area has one of the largest Hmong populations in the country, said Madgetta Dungy, admissions director for the Medical School.
Dungy said attempts to increase the number of minority applicants has been frustrating for the Medical School because Minnesota is a predominantly white state.
“It is an uphill battle,” she said.
The Medical School Office of Minority Affairs has been working toward improving the number of minority applicants.
Dungy said efforts are underway to create a network to recruit students in Minnesota. To accomplish this, minority students need to be encouraged earlier in their academic careers to look at a future in medicine.
Otherwise, by the time the students reach high school, they might not have the necessary basic skills to succeed in medical school.
“It’s certainly a priority to have a diverse medical school,” said Greg Vercellotti, Medical School associate dean. He explained that a variety of cultural viewpoints within the school will help care for a multicultural society.
Recently, the Minority Affairs office hosted a six-week seminar for minority students, designed to boost enrollment in the Medical School. The seminar informed students of the school’s requirements and of what they could do to improve their chances for acceptance.
Despite the efforts, the University has been unable to significantly increase the number of students enrolled at the Medical School.
This fall, only 10 of the 166 students enrolled were from under-represented minority groups.

Craig Gustafson covers the Medical School and welcomes comments at [email protected]