Med schools to continue considering race in admissions

U.S. medical schools will likely continue to consider applicants' race among many factors after the U.S. Supreme Court sent a challenge against racially based admission preferences back to a lower court, Kaiser Health News reported.

The Association of American Medical Colleges had filed a 52-page amicus brief supporting diversity in admissions in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, according to the article.

The Supreme Court's refusal to hear the case, saying the appeals court erred in dismissing the case, left both sides hopeful that they still could prevail, KHN reported.

"I think there is a shared sense of relief, but also caution," Heather Alarcon, a senior corporate council member at the Association of American Medical Colleges, told the health news service.

In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote that diversity is an acceptable goal, but said colleges must show that "no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity" before considering race in applications, the Houston Chronicle reported in an analysis.

Medical schools consider race in admissions to support diversity, which they believe is important both for students and patients, according to the KHN article.

Wylie Lopez, a student at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University, told KHN his background growing up Latino in a tough neighborhood helps him relate better to many patients, Latinos and otherwise. He said his MCAT scores and medical school grades show he deserved his medical school slot.

Princeton lecturer Russ Nieli, on the other hand, argued that affirmative action undermines the reputation of black and Latino physicians and leaves patients questioning their competence.

Writing in Washington Monthly, Century Foundation Senior Fellow Richard Kahlenberg argued the court's 7-1 decision could lead to racial preferences being dropped "for something better: affirmative action based on economic disadvantage."

For more:
- read the article
- here's the amicus brief (.pdf)
- check out Kahlenberg's article
- read the analysis