CHICAGO, Ill. – The American Medical Association (AMA) today [July 10, 2008] apologizes for its past history of racial inequality toward African-American physicians, and shares its current efforts to increase the ranks of minority physicians and their participation in the AMA. In 2005, the AMA convened and supported an independent panel of experts to study the history of the racial divide in organized medicine, and the culmination of this work prompted the apology. Details of the panel’s work will be made public next week on the Web site of the AMA’s Institute for Ethics to coincide with publication in a scientific journal.

“The AMA is proud to support research about the history of the racial divide in organized medicine because by confronting the past we can embrace the future,” said AMA Immediate-Past President Ronald M. Davis, M.D. “The AMA is committed to improving its relationship with minority physicians and to increasing the ranks of minority physicians so that the workforce accurately represents the diversity of America’s patients.”

The AMA created the Minority Affairs Consortium (MAC) to address the specific needs of minority physicians and to stimulate and support efforts to train more minority physicians. The philanthropic arm of the AMA each year provides $10,000 scholarships to medical student winners of the AMA Foundation Minority Scholars Award, in collaboration with the MAC. This year, 12 students received the award.

“Five years ago, the AMA joined with the National Medical Association and the National Hispanic Medical Association to create the Commission to End Health Care Disparities,” said Dr. Davis. “Our goal is to identify and study racial and ethnic health care disparities in order to eradicate them. We strongly support the ‘Doctors Back to School’ program, which the AMA founded, to inspire minority students to become the next generation of minority physicians.”

The Doctors Back to School program, which was developed by the AMA and adopted by the Commission, has visited more than 100 schools, ranging from elementary schools to undergraduate colleges, nationwide. The program has reached out to nearly 13,000 students to urge them to consider a career in medicine. More information about the program and the Commission are available on the AMA Web site .