America is set for a massive decline in the quality of its healthcare as non-White invaders swamp medical schools across the country.
The six members of Medical Team 4 have a lot in common. Each wears a white coat, has a stethoscope for a necklace and has stayed up late this week. They can all start an IV and work up a solitary lung nodule.
They share something less obvious, too. With one exception, none has a grandparent born in the United States. The members of Medical Team 4 at the VA Medical Center in Washington reflect the increasingly diverse makeup of U.S. medical schools (illustration).
Med 4 at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Northwest Washington is the new face of American medicine. Its members happen to come from Georgetown and George Washington universities, but the team is indistinguishable from similar groups of young doctors and doctors-to-be at many of the country's 125 medical schools.
In the past 15 years, U.S. medicine has seen a huge influx of first- and second-generation immigrants. It follows and augments a different demographic trend that began 30 years ago with the acceptance of increasing numbers of women into medical schools. As a result of that earlier revolutionary change, half of new practitioners today are women.
The Norman Rockwell-Marcus Welby image of the American doctor -- an avuncular white man, often in a bow tie -- is rapidly disappearing. From 1980 to 2004, the fraction of medical school graduates describing themselves as White fell from 85 percent to 64 percent. Over that same period, the percentage of Asians increased from 3 percent to 20 percent, with Indians and Chinese the two biggest ethnic groups.
Counted in the "White" category, moreover, are a moderate number of ethnic Persians whose families fled the 1979 Iranian revolution, and a smaller number of more recent arrivals from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In the "Black" category is an unknown number of graduates whose families recently arrived from Africa, predominantly Nigerians and Ghanaians.