The American Epilepsy Society joins with our colleagues in the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS), a coalition of 50 specialty societies representing more than 800,000 physicians across medicine, in expressing disappointment with the US Supreme Court’s decision to limit the consideration of an applicant’s racial or ethnic background, among other factors, in the admissions process for higher education. The court’s decisions in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vs Harvard and SFFA vs the University of North Carolina will hamper efforts to diversify healthcare and research professionals in the United States.
Compelling data demonstrate that diversity in the health professions improves the educational experiences of students, the teaching experiences of faculty, and the overall health of our nation. Growing evidence also indicates that race concordance with your physician produces higher levels of communication, trust, and adherence to medical advice. There is convincing evidence in epilepsy specifically that racially diverse care teams, among other factors, produce measurably positive health outcomes for patients in historically marginalized populations.
Unfortunately, the educational system in the United States (including undergraduate and graduate medical education) often disadvantages people who are Black, Latinx, Native American, and Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders. Black Americans are currently 13.4% of the US population, but few apply (8.4%), matriculate (6.2%), or match into residency programs (5.1%). Only 2.8% of US neurologists are Black or African American, as highlighted in a 2022 presentation at the AES Annual Meeting and the challenges to be addressed were further highlighted at the 2022 Education in Epilepsy SIG.
AES remains committed to strengthening the diversity of epilepsy health professionals and researchers through our own Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts and our participation in coalitions such as the CMSS/ACGME Equity Matters initiative, and commit to working with all stakeholders to ensure a diverse health professions workforce for epilepsy.