Beginning in 1977, minority acceptance rates to medical schools began to decline, reversing a three-year trend of higher acceptance rates among minorities than among non-minorities. Within this context, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation began funding research that eventually led to the development of the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP). This program provides a summer enrichment experience for minority college students who possess the academic qualifications that would gain entrance to medical school. The focus of MMEP has never been to advocate for different admissions standards according to race, but rather to better prepare minority students for the rigors of selection into medical school. The first authorization of MMEP came in 1987 with the funding of six sites throughout the United States. Since the days of that original cohort, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has increased both its funding for the program and the number of participating sites.
As the authors discuss the future of this program, they note several public policy developments relevant to the Minority Medical Education Program. Foremost among these is the political dynamic leading to the abandonment of affirmative action. Both the states of Washington and California have passed initiatives effectively terminating affirmative action efforts on the part of public entities. This policy in Washington directly affects the MMEP program site at the University of Washington. Despite these and other challenges, the authors remain confident that the MMEP program provides an effective model both for its own purposes and potentially for other health care professions as well.