Press Release

EDUCATE Act would end race-based mandates in medical schools

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-NC, a physician, has introduced a bill in Congress that would ban race-based mandates in medical schools. His bill, Embracing anti-Discrimination, Unbiased Curricula, and Advancing Truth in Education (EDUCATE) Act, would cut federal funding, including student loans, to medical schools that have offices of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion or require students and staff to pledge to specific beliefs.

“American medical schools are the best in the world and no place for discrimination,” said Murphy in a press release on the legislation. “The EDUCATE Act compels medical schools and accrediting agencies to uphold colorblind admissions processes and prohibits the coercion of students who hold certain political opinions. Diversity strengthens medicine, but not if it’s achieved through exclusionary practices. Medicine is about serving others and doing the best job possible in every circumstance. We cannot afford to sacrifice the excellence and quality of medical education at the hands of prejudice and divisive ideology.”

The bill comes as schools like the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) medical school re-examine their own DEI policies. The university did away with its DEI task force last summer without implementing its recommendations. UNC also banned DEI statements from admissions, hiring, promotion, and tenure. 

The task force had partially based its recommendations on policies of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which requires students to study topics like “Unconscious Bias Awareness,” “Understanding and Responding to Microaggressions,” and “Understanding that America’s medical system is structurally racist.” The American College of Surgeons (ACS) also launched a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion toolkit for providers in December,

The EDUCATE Act would require accrediting agencies like AAMC to ensure that their accreditation standards do not require DEI practices “while still allowing instruction about health issues tied to race or collecting data for research,” according to bill sponsors.

“The Task Force was initiated as a means to emphasize compliance with the School of Medicine’s and the Department of Health Sciences’ shared mission of improving the health and wellbeing of North Carolinians. While we remain committed to these important missions, the recommendations have not been operationalized and the Task Force has concluded its work,” wrote UNC senior counsel Kirsten Stevenson in a May letter to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. “There is no plan to implement the Task Force’s recommendations now or in the future. Even if the recommendations were revisited in the future, further review and revision would be required. A particular area of concern would be compliance with the recent amendments to the UNC systemwide policy on Political Activities of Employees.”

The UNC policy amendment prohibits state system schools from requiring employees and students to “affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement.”

At Duke University Medical School, the issue came up last month as videos of surgical resident Vignesh Raman were removed from the school’s website following public criticism. During a presentation, Raman made comments that Duke Hospital “serves a very southern population” and is “not a VIP hospital” where people fly in from all over to get treated. He also makes a dig toward those who are conservative by saying, “My heart sinks every time I go into a room, and I watch them watching Fox News or if they have a MAGA hat on or they’re wearing a confederate belt.” But he later says that the one good thing about the South is that a majority of the patients are “non-white.”

 He says the team was now “abandoning … all sort[s] of metrics” and is also increasing the diversity of people who read the applications of those applying so they have a better chance of being hired.

Murphy is not the only North Carolina congressman to give attention to this emerging issue. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC, took to social media after Carolina Journal’s opinion editor David Larson weigh in on the controversy.

Bishop is running to be North Carolina’s Attorney General in the November 2024 election.

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