Medical Students Responds to Supreme Court Decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas

August 13, 2017


Sterling, VA—The American Medical Student Association (AMSA), the nation’s largest independent medical student organization, is disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas-Austin. In a 7-1 decision, the Court’s ruling sends the case back to the lower court (Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals) for reconsideration. While the Court reaffirmed that there is a compelling state interest in ensuring student body diversity, race conscious admissions policies are permissible only insofar as there are no “available, workable race-neutral” alternatives. Thus, the Court sharpened the standard of review for affirmative action policies at all colleges and universities including medical schools.

“Equality in education extends beyond individual students to the society at large,” says Dr. Nida Degesys, AMSA national president. “Our organization supports medical schools who have adopted admission policies to evaluate applications holistically and to serve diverse patient populations.”

Studies have shown that physician understanding of the cultures and backgrounds of their patients have more informed decision making and higher patient compliance. This results in improved outcomes for patients. There is no substitution for holistic review that ensures applicants’ strengths, experiences, background and achievements are considered during the admissions process.

Reducing admissions criteria to strictly academic measures such as test scores would undermine efforts to address health disparities of minority populations. Many characteristics must be considered when determining the population of future physicians in our country. The United States is more diverse today than it has ever been and a history of government and legal support of pluralism in higher-education across college campuses is one of the driving forces behind our educational diversity.

AMSA believes that in order to achieve equal minority representation, U.S. medical schools recognize the goal of graduating a nationwide average of underrepresented minorities reflecting the community at large. By creating a diverse student population in medical school, we improve the health of society and the health care delivery system as a whole.

About the American Medical Student Association

AMSA is the oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States. Founded in 1950, AMSA is a student-governed, non-profit organization committed to representing the concerns of physicians-in-training. To learn more about AMSA, our strategic priorities, or joining the organization, please visit us online at www.amsa.org.