Missouri medical school in danger of losing accreditation in 2018 due to lack of diversity

Columbia-based University of Missouri School of Medicine may lose its accreditation status next year if the school cannot increase diversity among students and faculty, according to STAT.

This is the third time the Liaison Committee on Medical Education cited the school's lack of diversity since 2000. If the school loses its status, a medical degree from the university would be rendered "essentially worthless," according to the report.

In its 2016 ruling, the committee noted the medical school faces significant challenges "that inhibit the enrollment of students and the hiring of faculty in the full range of diversity … to maintain a quality learning environment," according to the report. The LCME previously issued similar citations to the medical school in 2001 and 2008.

The report found approximately five students in the current 104-student first-year class are black. In 2015, there were two black students and in 2014, there was only one. Accreditors noted minority faculty members represented less than 6 percent of the teaching staff. Medical school deans reportedly agreed with the committee's conclusion that diversity among both populations was "unsatisfactory," according to the report.

Officials have reportedly instituted a number of programs to promote diversity and inclusion at the school — from individual outreach, to building ties with historically black schools, to offering more minority scholarships, to launching a minority lecture series to help students of color identify with successful medical professionals who look like them, according to the report.

However, more than a half dozen current and former black students said the school's academic culture makes it more difficult for them to succeed compared to white students. In interviews with STAT, some individuals noted that the lack of diversity at the school meant they were "more likely to be mistaken for a janitor … or to hear physicians make off-handed remarks about patients of color," according to the report. The respondents also noted they had dealt with numerous instances of subtle and overt racism, leading them to second-guess their decision to attend the school.

"There are plenty of things the school hasn't done a good job of — and there are still stragglers of that old guard that do a disservice to students," said Samiat Agunbiade, a fourth-year medical student at the UM School of Medicine. "The school is headed in the right direction. But it's hard to know if it's going to be enough."

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