The Chicago-Sun Times (“Hispanic Students Filling Medical Schools Nationwide”) looks at the story of Anthony Acosta, a young Hispanic fourth-year medical student at University of Illinois who is the first member of his family to complete medical school. Acosta is living his family’s dream by becoming a doctor, but he is also fulfilling a larger dream.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of Hispanic applicants to American medical schools has increased by 22.9% in the past decade. Between 2010 and 2011 alone there was a 6% rise in Hispanic applicants. Acosta is one of the growing number of Hispanics now going to medical school.
While these percentages of Hispanic applicants seem positive, medical schools still have a long way to go when it comes to serving the Spanish-speaking community. As a result, medical schools have started taking new measures to improve the diversity of their classrooms. For example, many schools have begun looking at applicants as “entire students” and not just at their grades and MCAT scores. Other schools have begun to speak to high school students in disadvantaged communities to make them aware of their options at a young age. In fact, Spanish-language classes are being increasingly offered to young doctors in training to help fulfill the medical needs of the Spanish-speaking community.
Yet, a doctor that serves the Hispanic community does not need to be Hispanic. Sunny Gibson, director of diversity at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, explains that one simply needs to “speak some Spanish” and to show “patients that you really are there to provide better care.” In the end, being a good doctor comes down to speaking your patient’s language and being empathetic.