Portland observer. (Portland, Or.) 1970-current, September 21, 2016, Page Page 6, Image 6

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    Page 6
September 21, 2016
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Severe Case of Economic Homogeneity
Medical schools
fall short on
d r . g. r ichard o lds
schools are suffering
from a severe case of
economic homogeneity.
Three in four med students come
from families with incomes in the
top 40 percent of the population.
Just 5 percent of students come
from the bottom income quintile.
People from poor backgrounds
aren’t the only ones underrepre-
sented in medicine. The field lacks
sufficient numbers of minorities
of all sorts -- socioeconomic, eth-
nic, even linguistic.
Medicine’s diversity crisis isn’t
just cosmetic. It’s harming patients.
About half of medical students
are white males. Ethnic minorities
comprise just 4 percent of medi-
cal school faculty and
8 percent of American
This homogeneity is
fueling physician short-
ages in vulnerable com-
munities. Doctors are
most likely to work in
areas that share their demograph-
ics. White medical students from
wealthy backgrounds tend to return
to well-off, predominantly white lo-
cales to practice. Conversely, com-
munities that produce few medical
students also tend to have few prac-
ticing physicians.
Take rural areas. Not only are
there very few people from these
communities training to be doc-
tors -- medical school pedagogy
often ignores them entirely. Just 4
percent of family medicine train-
ing and 5 percent of internal med-
icine training occurs at rural, com-
munity-based health clinics.
As a result, while about 20 per-
cent of the American population
lives in rural settings, only 10 per-
cent of doctors practice there. Rural
communities have 20 percent fewer
doctors per person than their urban
counterparts. Studies show that med
students from rural areas are more
likely to return there to practice. To
address the shortage of rural doc-
tors, med schools need to recruit
rural students in the first place.
The story is similar for racial
minorities. Research suggests that
black doctors are more likely to
practice medicine in communities
with higher proportions of black
residents. Likewise, Hispanic
doctors tend to work in areas that
have, on average, double the share
of Hispanic residents relative to
populations served by non-His-
panic doctors.
Increasing the number of black
and Hispanic doctors will surely
increase access to care for their
Consequently, boosting the di-
versity of the physician workforce
isn’t just a feel-good mission. It’s
crucial to improving the quality of
care, especially for at-risk Amer-
icans -- and can have tangible,
positive consequences for patients
and doctors.
Some have taken up that charge.
The University of California-Riv-
erside’s med school provides ad-
mission preferences to students
who are first-generation, speak
English as a second language,
come from economically disad-
vantaged communities, or reside
in inland Southern California, a
historically underserved area.
At the institution I lead, St.
George’s University, all sec-
ond-year students go through a
10-week rotation at a community
hospital in Grenada, in the Ca-
ribbean. We’ve also made diver-
sity the focus of our recruitment
efforts. Our students come from
97 different countries; non-U.S.
residents account for 35 percent of
our enrollment.
Today’s medical schools don’t
reflect the ethnic, socioeconom-
ic, or geographic composition of
the patient populations doctors
serve. By boosting diversity, med
schools can improve the quality
of their training, help close the
healthcare access gap, and im-
prove patient health.
Dr. G. Richard Olds is presi-
dent of St. George’s University in
Museum of African American History at Long Last
America’s story
m arc h. m orial
It has taken over
a century, but Afri-
can-American history
will at long last occupy
a permanent and prom-
inent space in our na-
tion’s capital.
What has now man-
ifested into a museum occupying
five-acres of land on the Nation-
al Mall was originally envisioned
as a memorial meant to recognize
African-American contributions
in our nation’s history.
In 1915, a group of Black Civil
War veterans collected money and
created a movement to support
the creation of a national “Ne-
gro Memorial.” President Calvin
Coolidge signed legislation estab-
lishing a commission to plan its
construction—with Congress re-
fusing to finance the project.
The Great Depression, new na-
tional priorities, inevitable
political obstruction and
fading interests, stalled the
project for generations, but
on Saturday, Sept. 24, the
once deferred dream of Af-
rican-American war veter-
ans will become a reality
that makes its home mere
steps away from the Washington
Commissioned to share the
painful history and, oftentimes, un-
steady progress of black men and
women on American soil, the man-
date of the National Museum of Af-
rican American History and Culture
goes beyond carving out a niche
for black history within America’s
grander history, or mainstreaming
the black experience.
to the
Editor’s note: The following is
public letter to Portland Police
Chief Mike Marshman and Mult-
nomah County District Attorney
Rod Underhill:
We’re writing to express our
outrage and deep concern about
the use of officers with contro-
versial shooting records being put
into positions of power in your
At the Sept. 7 Citizen Review
Committee meeting, two of the
three officers representing the Bu-
reau were Jeffrey Bell, the new
captain of Internal Affairs, and
Chris Davis, the commander of
Central Precinct. Not only were
these the two officers who shot
and killed Jose Victor Santos Me-
jia Poot in 2001 (inside a psychiat-
ric hospital), but they were award-
ed Medals of Valor, prompting
community outrage.
Seeing these two sitting in
judgment of officers who esca-
Through its 11 inaugural galler-
ies, visitors will experience Afri-
can-American history from slav-
ery’s Middle Passage, to the election
of our nation’s first black president,
to the police violence and racial un-
rest that has given rise to the Black
Lives Matter movement.
But rather than act as a ware-
house of “firsts” and a cataloger
of the challenges the black com-
munity has faced, the museum—
devoted exclusively to the Afri-
can-American experience—will
become an active participant and
voice in our nation’s ongoing con-
versation and understanding of
our unique American experiment
and experience.
The National Museum of Afri-
can-American History and Culture
is a museum that “seeks to under-
stand American history through
the lens of the African-American
experience,” or as Lonnie Bunch,
the founding director of the muse-
um describes it:
The defining experience of Af-
rican–American life has been the
necessity of making a way out of
no way, of mustering the nimble-
ness, ingenuity and perseverance
to establish a place in this society.
That effort, over the centuries, has
shaped this nation’s history so pro-
foundly that, in many ways, Afri-
can-American history is the quint-
essential American history. Most
of the moments where American
liberty has been expanded have
been tied to the African-American
experience. If you’re interested in
American notions of freedom, if
you’re interested in the broaden-
ing of fairness, opportunity and
citizenship, then regardless of who
you are, this is your story, too.
Like any national museum,
the National Museum of Afri-
can-American History and Cul-
ture can help all of us—regardless
of race—to understand who we
are as a nation. National muse-
ums document our aspirations,
our achievements and how much
further we must climb to achieve
those lofty goals. Whether the
museum is dedicated to World
War II airmen, modern art or Af-
rican Americans, understanding
and knowing the good, the bad
and the ugly of every group that
calls these 50 states home means
a deeper understanding of our na-
tion, who we claim to be, and how
far we have arrived.
All of us can attain that deep-
er understanding by recognizing
African-American history while
acknowledging the intricate and
tangled role it has played in shap-
ing our nation’s identity.
Marc H. Morial is president
and chief executive officer of the
National Urban League.
Outraged by Officer Promotions
lated a confrontation with a man
with mental health issues, includ-
ing one who discharged his Taser
6 times, made us wonder wheth-
er the foxes with blood on their
mouths are now guarding the hen
Meanwhile, DA Underhill has
seen fit to hire out from the Miller
Nash law firm one Cody Berne.
Berne was one of the officers
who followed African American
25-year-old Keaton Otis for driv-
ing his mother’s Toyota in a hood-
ie, and one of the three officers
who shot and killed Otis.
Berne fired 11 times. We have
to wonder whether the DA is
aware that this ex-police officer
prosecutor will be seen as 100 per-
cent biased toward the police, but
especially hope that he will never
be assigned to an officer involved
shooting, death in custody or seri-
ous injury case.
It was disappointing to read
Underhill’s defense of hiring
someone who will be perceived as
racially biased in addition to his
violent past.
Please let us know what your
plans are to address the distrust
your actions of promoting andhir-
ing these individuals brings to the
community, particularly commu-
nities of color, in this post-Fergu-
son America.
Dan Handelman, Portland