A physician, and chair of an “anti-racist” organization, claims the University of Florida is discriminating against white people by offering a scholarship to minorities who have been historically marginalized and underrepresented in the medical field.
Stanley Goldfarb, chair of the antiracist organization Do No Harm, has filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education accusing UF’s school of medicine and four other universities of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on a person’s race, color, gender or national origin.
The other schools are the University of Minnesota Medical School, University of Tulsa-Oklahoma School of Community Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Goldfarb targeted UF’s Underrepresented in Medicine (URiM) Visiting Student Program, a four-week scholarship for fourth-year students who are interested in completing an externship in emergency medicine.
“This scholarship discriminates based on race,” Goldfarb said. “If there are other scholarships that do the same thing, we’re just as opposed to them. Discrimination has no place in healthcare and is downright un-American.”
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The Do No Harm website states that it is fighting for patients and against identity politics, adding that the “radical movement behind ‘Critical Race Theory’ and ‘Defund the Police’ is coming after healthcare but hardly anyone knows it. The home page goes on to state that “radical activists” are using shoddy research to undermine healthcare and define people as “monolithic racial groups.”
When reached for comment, UF officials would not speak to the Gainesville Sun about the importance of the scholarship and said they had no comment on the group’s claims.
The four-week scholarship is offered during June and October and is “designed to give students with backgrounds currently underrepresented in medicine an opportunity to gain clinical exposure to Emergency Medicine in our tertiary care adult and children’s hospitals,” according to the university’s website.
Requirements outline that only those who are recognized as “historically underrepresented in medicine” as defined by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). That includes Black/African American students, African Americans and/or Black, American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Hispanic/Latinx, and Pacific Islander.
Goldfarb said when it comes to medical school qualifications it’s important to look at whether the applicant will be the best physician, not their background.
“Prioritizing other characteristics undercuts the purpose of medical school and ultimately risks patient health,” Goldfarb said.
Addressing health care disparity
Innocent Odocha, a family physician at Gainesville’s Primary Care Institute, said that he was a recipient of a minority scholarship when he was in med school and that he would be in favor of seeing an increase in other minorities having access to medical schools.
“The only way that we can solve the health care disparity, which is huge, is to have more minority medical professionals or Black nurses or Black physicians,” Odocha said.
Diversity data from AAMC shows that matriculant students who attend medical school are largely made up of white and Asian students, the two of the largest ethnic groups for the academic year of 2018-2019.
The percentage of matriculants for white students was 49.9%, while Asian students made up 22.1%.
Black and African American students were at 7.1% and Hispanic or Latino Americans were at 6.2%.
While American Indians or Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders were the smallest groups to attend medical schools, the data shows.
Blacks/African Americans were at 7.1% and Hispanic/Latino Americans were at 6.2%.