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Life Balance: Diversity in Med School

Many career fields are seeing an increase in the numbers of foreign students. This is especially prevalent in medical school. The Washington Post recently posted an article on diversity at med schools.

The six members of Medical Team 4 have a lot in common. Each wears a white coat, has a stethoscope for a necklace and has stayed up late this week. They can all start an IV and work up a solitary lung nodule.

They share something less obvious, too. With one exception, none has a grandparent born in the United States.

In the past 15 years, U.S. medicine has seen a huge influx of first- and second-generation immigrants. It follows and augments a different demographic trend that began 30 years ago with the acceptance of increasing numbers of women into medical schools. As a result of that earlier revolutionary change, half of new practitioners today are women.

The Norman Rockwell-Marcus Welby image of the American doctor -- an avuncular white man, often in a bow tie -- is rapidly disappearing.

From 1980 to 2004, the fraction of medical school graduates describing themselves as white fell from 85 percent to 64 percent. Over that same period, the percentage of Asians increased from 3 percent to 20 percent, with Indians and Chinese the two biggest ethnic groups.

As the American population becomes more diverse, so will professionals in many fields. Regardless of ethnicity, the need for doctors and healthcare workers will continue to attract students to the field of healthcare.


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