All Americans should be terrified of what’s about to happen in health care. The same radical woke activists who’ve corrupted K-12 education and public safety are about to force every medical student to learn and practice divisive, discriminatory and downright dangerous things. What happens in medical school will ultimately corrupt all of health care, and as a longtime medical educator, I’m calling on policymakers to fight back.
The looming threat comes courtesy of the Association of American Medical Colleges. The AAMC, which administers the Medical College Admission Test, represents 171 US and Canadian medical schools along with more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. One of its key roles is developing standards for the topics and concepts medical students must learn. And what, you ask, are the latest requirements? You guessed it: diversity, equity and inclusion.
Rolled out in mid-July, these new standards are overtly ideological. They will train medical students for political activism as much as medical care. Don’t take my word for it: When announcing the standards, the AAMC’s president and chair of its council of deans declared that woke identity politics “deserves just as much attention from learners and educators at every stage of their careers as the latest scientific breakthroughs.”
These standards have radical expectations for what medical-school graduates, residency graduates and faculty physician teachers must know and do. For instance, med-school grads must be fully versed in so-called “intersectionality.” This includes “demonstrat[ing] evidence of self-reflection and how one’s personal identities, biases, and lived experience” influence clinical practice, as well as identifying a “patient’s multiple identities and how each may result in varied and multiple forms of oppression.”
Oppression is a consistent theme. Graduates must describe “the impact of various systems of oppression on health and healthcare,” including “colonialism, White Supremacy, acculturation, [and] assimilation.” They must also identify “systems of power, privilege and oppression,” including “white privilege, racism, sexism, heterosexism, ableism, [and] religious oppression.” Once graduates identify the oppressed, they are expected to practice “allyship,” which is defined as “recogniz[ing] their privilege” and “work[ing] in solidarity with oppressed groups in the struggle for justice.”
Elsewhere, the standards declare that graduates must “articulate race as a social construct that is a cause of health and health care inequities.” And they must look beyond health care itself to “identify and address social risk factors,” like “food security, housing, utilities, [and] transportation.” Translation: Medical students will be expected to advocate political causes that have nothing to do with treating patients.
The expectations for residency graduates and training physicians expand on these divisive themes. The former must translate concepts like “anti-racism” into clinical practice, which means discriminating on the basis of race, either by providing different levels of access to or levels of care. The latter must be “role models” for med students, showing them how to “engage with systems to disrupt oppressive practices.” At every level of medical education, there will be no escape from the brainwashing.
I cannot overstate the danger. (And I can also attest, sadly, that medical schools are already teaching many of these dangerous concepts.) As I know firsthand, it’s a struggle to help medical students learn everything they need to succeed as physicians in the care of increasingly complex and sick patients. The courses that schools will design under these standards will eat up the valuable time that students should spend on actual science and hands-on practice. And the real-world harm will be severe.
Imagine future physicians lecturing patients about their privilege, failing to adequately manage immediate medical needs due to distraction with social issues like housing and employment and delaying (or even denying) care for patients of certain skin colors in the name of “equity.” The standards will create physicians who are less prepared for clinical practice and more likely to discriminate in their daily work, ultimately leading to worse care for all patients and less public trust in this essential and lifesaving field.
The woke conquest of health care is nearly complete. Once these principles are implemented, through accreditation standards or postgraduate testing, they will be nearly impossible to roll back. But that’s the point: The activist crowd has worked hard to capture the commanding heights of medical education because it determines the future of health care.
The only recourse I see is for state leaders to prevent the standards’ implementation or medical schools’ teaching of the underlying concepts. Boards of regents should intervene, lawmakers should limit funding or outright prohibit such indoctrination, and governors and attorneys general should take steps to protect students. The medical establishment itself is driving health care’s politicized decline, so someone else will have to save it.
Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a former associate dean of curriculum at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is chairman of Do No Harm.