Dr. Stanley Goldfarb, a professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania’s medical school, is giving members of his profession heart palpitations.
Goldfarb, 78, says new “anti-racism” med school policies are lowering standards, reducing students to the color of their skin and corrupting medicine in general — much to the outrage of his fellow faculty members.
“I understand we need to give people more opportunities,” Goldfarb, a trained nephrologist, told The Post. “But there are some things you can’t sacrifice. This focus on diversity means we’re going to take someone with a certain skin color because we think they’re OK, that they can do the work. But we’re not going to look for the best and the brightest. We’re going to look for people who are just OK to make sure we have the right mixture of ethnic groups in our medical schools.”
After the May 2020 murder of George Floyd, the powerful American Medical Association (AMA) and Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) claimed that systemic racism was to blame for racial disparities between white and black patients.
Last year, the AMA announced a three-year strategic plan to “aggressively push forward” new policies that encourage people of color to enter the medical profession, in order to help eliminate the disparities between white and minority patients.
In January 2022, Step One of the US Medical Licensing Exam, which for years gauged the progress of medical school students and assessed their suitability for prestigious residency programs, was changed from numerical grades to a pass/fail, giving students more time to “authentically develop” their interests in such things as “community engagement.”
Several medical schools have already scrapped the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) for certain students. The MCAT is the primary exam required to get into med school.
Goldfarb said this new push for diversity and equity has meant that some high-performing white — and often Asian — students can’t get into medical school because those slots are being given to black and Hispanic students who don’t have to show such high grades or test scores.
“It’s manyfold harder for a white medical student who has average grades to get accepted into medical school, maybe 30 or 40 times harder than a minority student with the same grades,” Goldfarb said, adding that the parents of a young white man with a 4.0 GPA in college recently reached out to him when their son’s applications to US medical schools were rejected.
He said the new policies could eventually hurt minority students who could be viewed as less competent than their white peers.
“This is the downside of affirmative action,” Goldfarb added. “The brilliant black doctors of the future like a Ben Carson, who was considered one of the premier pediatric neurosurgeons in the world, may be looked at by someone who says, ‘Hey, this person doesn’t belong at Johns Hopkins — he’s only here because they wanted more diversity in the neurosurgery department.’”
Goldfarb is fighting back through Do No Harm, an organization he founded this year that helps protect doctors, patients and health care itself from “discriminatory, divisive ideologies.” In March, he doubled down with the new book “Take Two Aspirin and Call Me by My Pronouns: Why Turning Doctors into Social Justice Warriors Is Destroying American Medicine.”
As a result of his remarks, he has been publicly censured by UPenn Medical School’s chairman, Dr. Michael Parmacek. A minority advocacy group run by Dr. Ashley Denmark, a black female doctor, also started a petition earlier this year demanding Goldfarb’s removal from the college.
In May, Denmark founded an organization called Project Diversify Medicine, which helps minorities get into med schools. Denmark, 38, who grew up near Ferguson, Mo., graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta and Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Spartanburg, SC.
“Goldfarb represents the privilege that a lot of white male doctors enjoy, which is the ability to express themselves freely without recourse,” Denmark told The Post, adding that she was abruptly fired from her last position as a doctor in Missouri because of her work with Project Diversify Medicine and for filing a complaint alleging discrimination.
“Doctors like me don’t get the support a white doctor like Goldfarb does. Racism ends in a funeral for a lot of black and brown patients. All we want is more doctors who look like our community. And he is wrong about how changing standards will impact medical education. We still have to pass the same boards and same rotations after we graduate.”
But Goldfarb said he doesn’t care about professional blowback.
In May, Do No Harm filed a civil rights lawsuit against federal health officials in eight states, challenging a new rule by the Department of Health and Human Services, Medicare and Medicaid that enables higher pay for doctors who adopt an “anti-racism” plan.
In June, the organization filed five discrimination complaints against the US Department for Civil Rights alleging that the Florida College of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa School of Community Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine and the Medical College of Wisconsin were biased against white students because they only offered scholarships to minorities.
Goldfarb, who began at UPenn in 1969, said the change at the medical school began in 2018 when Dr. Suzanne Rose arrived on campus and was named senior vice dean for medical education.
“We’d had a very stable leadership for quite a while and resisted going the way some other medical schools were going but she brought in this new ideology,” Goldfarb said. “She wanted to link up to what the American Medical Association was doing in education, which was promoting woke ideas, and there was a phrase that she told me that always stuck with me. She said we have too much science in the curriculum — which meant physicians should be more akin to social workers in their activities, particularly primary care physicians, rather than learning hard science that relates to patient care.”
Rose did not return a phone call from The Post.
The AAMC represents 171 US and Canadian medical schools along with more than 400 teaching hospitals and health systems. Medical schools need the AAMC for accreditation.
In response to accusations that medical education was going too woke, the AAMC referred The Post to a letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal written by two doctors from the organization, which stated, “There’s a growing body of evidence about what race is and isn’t, and its effect on health. These new insights are improving medical practice. They can also improve medical education, where they are taught in addition to, not at the expense of, the most solid grounding in STEM disciplines.”
A spokesman for UPenn’s medical school emailed a statement to The Post saying that Goldfarb’s opinions do not reflect the “core values” of the school.
“Dr. Goldfarb has not held a role as an associate dean at the Perelman School of Medicine since 2019 and he became an emeritus faculty member in 2021. We are fortunate to attract talented and diverse students and we are committed to rigorous medical training that prepares future doctors to understand the full spectrum of physiologic and social factors that impact health. As an institution, we deeply value inclusion, diversity, and equity, and are proud of the many efforts of our community — in education, clinical care, scholarship, and community service.”