Friends & Colleagues, 

With Black History Month now underway, it is a good time to reflect on action recently taken by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC). As part of its commitment to becoming an anti-racist, equitable and inclusive organization, the AAMC announced in November that it would rename the Abraham Flexner Award for Distinguished Service to Medical Education. Starting this year, the prestigious award will be called the AAMC Award for Excellence in Medical Education. In announcing the change, AAMC President and CEO Dr. David Skorton pointed out that the work of Flexner, an education specialist commissioned to assess the state of American and Canadian medical education in the early 1900s, did result in positive changes in medical education. But Skorton also noted that as a result of Flexner’s recommendations, five of the seven existing schools devoted to educating Black physicians were closed. And in his report Flexner suggested that Black students should be trained as “sanitarians'' rather than surgeons and their primary role should be to protect white people from disease. “A well-taught Negro sanitarian will be immensely useful; an essentially untrained Negro wearing an MD degree is dangerous,” Flexner wrote. There’s no doubt the AAMC did the right thing in renaming its award. As Dr. Alison Wheeler, AAMC’s chief medical officer argues, “the negative repercussions of Flexner’s words and work” can no longer be ignored. In today's newsletter, we feature a member of our faculty, Dr. Oluwafunmilola T. Okuyemi, an African American whose work reinforces the fact that Black history is American history.