Top Medical Schools Get Poor Marks for Racial Justice

A new report finds that ten leading medical schools come up short on promoting diversity, serving patients of color, and ensuring fair treatment of workers


Contact: White Coats for Black Lives National Working Group

White Coats for Black Lives, a national medical student and physician organization, has published its inaugural Racial Justice Report Card. The Report Card evaluates 10 leading U.S. medical schools on 15 metrics, assessing each school's racial justice performance on curriculum and climate; student and faculty diversity; policing; racial integration of clinical care sites; treatment of workers; and research protocols. The 10 schools and affiliated teaching hospitals were chosen based on student interest and national prominence of the school as measured by NIH funding:

  • Harvard Medical School (Boston, Mass.)
  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (New York, NY)
  • Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Baltimore, Md.)
  • Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (San Francisco, Calif.)
  • University of Michigan Medical School (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
  • Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis (St. Louis, Mo.)
  • Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn.)

Racism is a powerful force in American medicine, with consequences in population-level health outcomes (white Americans live, on average, 3.5 years longer than black Americans); health care delivery metrics (black patients with symptoms of heart attacks are less likely than white patients to undergo ECGs, chest X-rays, or oxygen saturation monitoring); and physician workforce statistics (black, Latinx, and Native American people represent 32% of the U.S. population, but only 8.9% of physicians).

Medical schools and affiliated hospitals are powerful institutions that receive massive amounts of public funding, provide care to millions of patients, and are often the largest employers in their regions. The Racial Justice Report Card encourages them to fight racism by directing their power and resources towards the needs of patients and health care workers of color through three principal goals:

  1. Articulate a vision of specific actions that medical schools and academic medical centers should take to promote racial justice.
  2. Increase transparency around current policies and practices of medical schools and academic medical centers.
  3. Support community-based organizing efforts that hold medical schools and academic medical centers accountable for promoting racial justice.

The Racial Justice Report Card was created by the medical student members of White Coats for Black Lives, with the collaboration of medical students at the graded schools. Schools received an advance copy of their report cards last week and were given the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies.

White Coats for Black Lives is a medical student-run organization working to safeguard the lives and well-being of patients through the elimination of racism.