Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) increased the percentage

of underrepresented minority students enrolling in its medical school by

8.2 percent between the 1993-94 and 1998-99 academic years-the largest

increase of any medical school in California, according to The New

Physician Magazine.

As reported in the April 1999 issue, WesternU’s College of Osteopathic

Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) increased the percentage of

underrepresented minorities from 11.7 percent in 1993-94 to 19.9 percent

in the academic year just ended, 1998-99.

Underrepresented minority students, as defined by The New Physician

Magazine, are those students who are of Hispanic, African American or

American Indian heritage. The magazine surveyed the enrollment of

underrepresented minority students who were beginning their first year of

medical studies.

Of the 10 medical schools in California, only three increased their

percentage of underrepresented minority students in the five years between

surveys; all others decreased their percentages. Stanford University’s

College of Medicine was second after COMP in increasing its

underrepresented minority enrollment, going from 14 percent

in 1993-94 to 20.9 percent in 1998-99, a 6.9 percent increase. The

University of California, Los Angeles/Charles R. Drew University of

Medicine and Science increased its percentage from 23.4 percent to 23.7

percent, an increase of three-tenths of a percent.

In addition, The New Physician Magazine reported that COMP’s percentage of

underrepresented minority first-year students was greater than 90 percent

of medical schools throughout the country and Puerto Rico. COMP and the

University of Illinois’ medical school tied for 14th place out of 144

medical schools in the percentage of underrepresented minority enrollment.

Of the 173 students who began their medical studies at COMP in fall 1998,

15 were African American, 17 were Hispanic and 2 were American Indian.

The high percentage of underrepresented minority students comes as little

surprise to WesternU’s Director of Admissions, Susan Hanson.

“”We look at every applicant who meets our minimum requirements for

admission,”” Hanson said. “”Every applicant. Then we take a ‘deeper look.’

In addition to looking at grade point average and MCAT scores, we look

into an applicant’s commitment to medicine, community work, outside

interests and other factors we feel indicate an applicant will succeed


Unlike some state-supported schools, which may have a “”separate track”” for

minority applicants, COMP always has viewed every candidate equally,

Hanson said.

“”We don’t process a minority student any differently than any other,”” she


Underrepresented enrollment for first-year students for the 1998-99 school

year also was high University-wide. Of 424 students who began WesternU’s

osteopathic medicine, primary care physician assistant, master of physical

therapy and pharmacy programs in August 1998, 17.2 percent were members of

an underrepresented minority, Hanson said. (WesternU will track members of

the University’s College of Graduate Nursing for the first time this

coming year, she added.)

“”Naturally, we’re very proud of the fact that a high percentage of our

students are from underrepresented populations,”” Hanson said. “”It’s a

direct result of our admissions and recruiting staff making the commitment

to look equally at all candidates. WesternU’s diverse student body is well

worth the extra work.””