SAN ANTONIO – The next generation of physicians promises to have a greater representation of African Americans, according to Chiquita Collins, Ph.D. and the chief diversity officer for the Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio.
“As a nation, the number of black or African American first-year students increased by 21%,” Collins said, also speaking as the chair of the group on diversity and inclusion for the American Association of Medical Colleges.
The Long School of Medicine reflects that trend in its student applications, Collins said.
She said while overall applications to the medical school rose 20% last year, those from African Americans jumped 40%.
Already ranked among the nation’s top 50 medical schools, Collins said U.S. News and World Reports also recognized the Long School of Medicine as one of the best in terms of diversity.
“Our medical school ranks 16th in the nation and first in Texas,” Collins said.
African Americans also represented 7.9% of its total enrollment in 2021-22, up from 6.6% the year before, she said.
“That’s highly, highly encouraging,” said Ifeanyi Anyaoha, a third-year medical student from Dallas.
“I’d never seen too many black doctors growing up,” Anyaoha said. “I thought that was kind of odd and figured maybe that needed to change.”
Yet, he said it was his white primary care physician specializing in internal medicine who inspired him to follow in her footsteps.
“She was their friend and their doctor, and that was so meaningful to me,” Anyaoha said.
However, he said, like so many others applying to medical school, “One of the greatest barriers to entry is the cost.”
He said thankfully, the state of Texas has a system where students can apply to 10 different medical schools with one application, “But the fee is minimal compared to applying to schools within the United States outside of Texas.”
“We offer opportunities to kind of offset the burden of loans that students often have to incur to attend medical school,” she said. “So there are many possibilities and opportunities.”