Another day, another racially discriminatory medical program.
The latest injustice comes from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which is “dedicated to creating a world without blood cancers.” Apparently, it thinks racial discrimination can advance that goal, based on its Underrepresented Minority Medical Student Research Program.
The program’s discrimination is obvious. It’s only available to 2nd-to-4th-year medical students who are “Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino(a), American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/other Pacific Islander.” In other words, Whites and Asians need not apply.
This program is illegal and unconstitutional. It’s also morally unacceptable. And last but not least, it’s unjustifiable. The Society surely hopes this program will elevate physicians who can help minority patients with Leukemia or Lymphoma. But the best way to ensure they get the best treatment is to elevate the most talented physicians, regardless of race. There are many White and Asian physicians who would surely excel if this program was available to them.
More to the point, it won’t help to have more minority physicians paired with minority patients—a concept known as “racial concordance.” As Do No Harm demonstrates in a new report, studies show that racial concordance doesn’t improve health outcomes or decrease disparities. In fact, it’s more likely to harm patients by encouraging lower standards. Yet patients deserve the most qualified physicians, no matter their skin color.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society should be ashamed. Plenty of diverse candidates deserve a shot at this program, including less fortunate whites and Asians. The Society shouldn’t be surprised if someone files a lawsuit to end this blatant racial discrimination. The best course of action is for the Society to stop the discrimination on its own, immediately. Then it can get back to focusing on its real mission of curing blood cancer.
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