Affirmative Action: Implications for Healthcare Workforce, Diversity and Health Equity


Policy debates related to affirmative action have typically focused on its effects on education, employment, and earnings. These debates, however, have generally neglected the important role affirmative action may play in shaping population health. The recent Supreme Court decision has far-reaching implications for the Black community.  This decision has the capacity to stifle the pursuit of health equity for all Americans. To disregard the need for appropriate remedies in health, mentioned and unnecessary by the court, is to ignore an obvious reality from the cradle to the grave, Black Americans experience a higher burden of preventable diseases and mortality compared to other ethnic groups. This ruling will have a profound impact on the entire healthcare system. The articles in this edition delve into the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the health of Black Americans.

Affirmative Action, Population Health, and the Importance of Opportunity and Hope

  • New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 389, No 13, September 28th, 2023
  • Atheendar S. Venkataramani, M.D., Ph.D.

Lack of diversity in the physician workforce has implications for population health and health equity, as illustrated by evidence that having access to physicians from concordant racial and ethnic groups may improve trust and engagement with preventive care and, consequently, reduce premature mortality among patient populations that have long faced structural barriers to good health.

 Why Is This Article Important This article outlines the implication of the decision on the healthcare workforce with a particular emphasis on how it would affect diversity in the physician workforce

Affirmative Action Ruled Unconstitutional

Options for Building a Diverse Health Care Workforce

Eli Y. Adashi, MD, MS1; Philip A. Gruppuso, MD1; I. Glenn Cohen, JD2,3

Author Affiliations


2023;330(11):1031-1032. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.14886

Trying to build a diverse physician workforce will be difficult after the recent Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling

Why Is This Article Important: The Authors present a pathway to help organize and promote individual, institutional, professional, and societal actions to increase the number of underrepresented individuals in medicine within the medical workforce in a “post–affirmative action” landscape. The foundational steps to a medical career often start in grade school. We need some solutions.

Health equity in the implementation of genomics and precision medicine: A public health imperative

Muin J Khoury 1, Scott Bowen 2, W David Dotson 2, Emily Drzymalla 2, Ridgely F Green 2, Robert Goldstein 3, Katherine Kolor 2, Leandris C Liburd 4, Laurence S Sperling 5, Rebecca Bunnell 6

Affiliations expand


Genet Med. 2022 Aug;24(8):1630-1639. doi: 10.1016/j.gim.2022.04.009. Epub 2022 Apr 28.

Free PMC article

Recent reviews have emphasized the need for a health equity agenda in genomics research. To ensure that genomic discoveries can lead to improved health outcomes for all segments of the population, a health equity agenda needs to go beyond research studies. 

Why Is This Article Important: The remarkable advancements in genomics and precision medicine are paving the way for the future of healthcare. However, studies have revealed a concerning trend. Implementation rates among racial and ethnic minority groups, rural communities, uninsured or underinsured individuals, and those with lower education and income remain lower. In order to truly embrace the medicine of the future, we must make a conscious effort to ensure inclusivity and leave no one behind. 

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