Here’s why we need socioeconomic diversity

Parents cheer, students rejoice, and teachers relax — it’s graduation season, one of my favorite times of the year. A few weeks ago, the Class of 2018 at Harvard Medical School (HMS) marched across campus to complete their final hoorah as medical students. I observed in awe and noticed something spectacular: most graduates who delivered a speech represented minority groups.

This sighting was not happenstance. Energy is allocated to bolstering racial diversity in medicine because diverse cohorts help students learn cultural humility. Minority doctors are also more likely to work in underserved areas. An additional reason applicable to medical students involves the value of cultivating intimate connections with patients who share similar identities.

For example, as first-year medical students, we interview hospitalized patients during precarious times in their lives. My first patient, Ms. R, was known to be reticent with clinical staff. But my initial fear of eliciting her personal concerns eased as soon as she spoke.

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