RWJF’s Work to Make Minority Medical Faculty a Priority

Jun 26, 2014, 1:00 PM

Directors at the National Institutes of Health, medical school deans and presidents, professors, members of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences—these are just a few examples of the impressive roles that Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (AMFDP) alumni have gone on to fill after completing the program. Its impact over three decades of nurturing the careers of physician-scientists from disadvantaged backgrounds is the subject of an article in the May issue of the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Authored by AMFDP Program Director David S. Wilkes, MD, and Deputy Director Nina L. Ardery, MA, MBA, both of the Indiana University School of Medicine, and David M. Krol, MD, MPH, FAAP, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the article explores the evolution of the AMFDP since RWJF created it in 1983 as the Minority Medical Faculty Development Program. (It was renamed in 2004 in honor of its first director.)

Among key assumptions in creating the program, the authors write, were that minority faculty would encourage more minority students to go to medical school; exposure to more minority faculty would encourage medical schools, hospitals, and others to seek out more candidates from disadvantaged backgrounds; and minority faculty would help medical schools better understand minority issues, ultimately contributing to better care for minority patients in teaching hospitals and stronger scientific study of minority health. 

The article also explores three key factors that have driven the AMFDP’s success: an engaged, committed National Advisory Committee; three levels of mentorship; and an expectation of scientific excellence combined with “attention to the nuts and bolts of building an academic career.”

Despite AMFDP’s achievements, with more than 250 alumni, the article concludes that three decades aren’t enough “to gauge the full impact” of the program, which looks forward to history yet to be made by future cohorts of diverse physician-scientists who will benefit from continued RWJF investment and more attention in the program to leadership development. 

Read the article, “Leveraging Diversity in American Academic Medicine,” online.  

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.