UCLA Medical School, discrimination

UCLA Medical School Denies Accusations Of Lowering School Standards For Minorities Amid Whistleblower Claims

Affirmative action strikes away....

After whistleblower allegations claimed that UCLA Medical School lowers academic standards for minority applicants, the school denied the allegations

The dean of the University of California, Los Angeles’ David Geffen School of Medicine denied allegations on May 24. It pushed the idea that admission decisions are “based on merit” and made in compliance with state law. “There have been false allegations about [the medical school] in media outlets,” Steven Dubinett wrote in an email to students and faculty. 

“We want to affirm here that both [medical school] students and faculty members are held to the highest standards of academic excellence.”

He continued that “medical student final exam scores are well above the national average,” however it is unknown if it was inference to shelf test – or standardized tests where close to 50% of some UCLA cohorts fail, or another test.  

Dubinett’s statement comes after whistleblower allegations from eight UCLA professors accused the school of holding Black and Latino applicants to lower standards than White and Asian applicants. Four of the professors had served on the medical school’s admissions committee, and the blame was placed on the shelf tests, often taken after each clinical rotation, testing basic medical knowledge. 

National standards show only 5% of students fail. 

The finger was also pointed at the medical school’s dean of admissions, Jennifer Lucero, who is accused of showing a pattern of discriminatory behavior. She allegedly attacked admissions officers after they issued questions about minorities’ test scores and brought up race explicitly in admissions discussions. 

In November 2021, after some committee members pushed against admitting a black applicant with grades and test scores well under the UCLA average, Lucero allegedly pushed back with excessive anger. “Did you not know African-American women are dying at a higher rate than everybody else?” Lucero asked the admissions officer, according to people familiar with the incident. 

“We need people like this in the medical school.”

Well before the Supreme Court’s ruling to ban affirmative action in 2023, public schools in California were prohibited by state law from considering race in admissions. Lucero’s outburst concerned some admissions officers, causing one to reach out to others via email. “We are not consistent in the way we apply the metrics to these applicants,” the email read. “This is troubling.”

The faculty raised concerns about how students are prepared for clinical rotations. Jeffrey Flier, the former dean of Harvard Medical School, shared similar sentiments, claiming DEI modifications promote “extensive and dangerous misinformation.”

Fellow critics feel practices do more than lower standards for medical education but also put future patients in danger by graduating future doctors with insufficient training.

UCLA’s medical school was once ranked 6th by U.S. News & World Report and has dropped to 18th place since Lucerno took over. The school once received 14,000 applications a year. For the 2023 admissions season, only 173 students were accepted, a record low of 1.3%.