Underrepresented in medicine – Underrepresented in medicine is a term which has become fuzzier over time, but has traditionally referred to racial minorities who are underrepresented in the medical specialty. With regards to its implication in the medical workforce, we will explore the Association of American Medical Colleges’ (AAMC) definition. Originally the AAMC used the term underrepresented minority (URM) which consisted of Blacks, Mexican-Americans, Native Americans (that is, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians), and mainland Puerto Ricans.
In 2001 Barbara Grutter filed suit against the University of Michigan, including the president of the university at that time, Lee Bollinger, alleging she was discriminated against on the basis of her race (in violation of the 14th Amendment) because the law school considered race, though preferential consideration of underrepresented minorities, a “predominant factor” in its admissions decision. The suit percolated through the courts, eventually making it to the Supreme Court. The AAMC, with 14 other health organizations, responded with an amicus brief. During this time, another similar case, Gratz v. Bollinger, was brought to the supreme court arguing that a points-based system for admission which awarded points based on URM status was unconstitutional. While in Grutter v. Bollinger the court upheld that consideration of URM status in admissions, it required that it must be done narrowly and consider other factors. At the same time, in Gratz v Bollinger, the court famously struck down the use of points-based systems for scoring applicants.
Following Grutter v. Bollinger, the AAMC adopted a broader term, underrepresented in medicine (URiM or URM), which they define as:
“Underrepresented in medicine means those racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population.”