Woke Ideals Prioritized Over Medical Excellence

San Diego State University (SDSU) has taken an intriguing step in its latest hiring process for a professor of cancer biology. Last October, the institution began its search with a condition that raises eyebrows and concerns: the professor must meet “Building on Inclusive Excellence” criteria. This criterion is far from the sole focus on science you might expect when recruiting someone expected to make “significant contributions to the scholarly literature.”

This comes amid a more significant trend where medical schools increasingly prioritize Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) metrics. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently conducted an audit asking 89 yes-or-no questions to assess the “wokeness” of medical institutions. Astonishingly, more than six of 10 medical schools scored above 80% on these DEI activities.

While DEI considerations are essential in fostering a diverse and inclusive environment, the issue arises when these considerations focus on the critical objective: training the best medical professionals. At SDSU, prospective cancer biology professors are asked to “substantiate their enlightenment bonafides” by fulfilling a range of DEI criteria, from mentoring Indigenous students to researching health disparities in rural Black communities.

In the quest for a cancer cure, shouldn’t we ask about the candidate’s scientific qualifications and breakthrough research rather than how well they mentor underrepresented groups? Cancer, as we all know, is no respecter of wokeness — it strikes without regard to race, creed or ideology.

Moreover, this DEI focus is more expansive than hiring faculty. The AAMC survey revealed that 100% of medical schools have admissions policies emphasizing a “diverse class of students.” This approach risks overshadowing merit, potentially lowering the quality of future doctors. This is particularly alarming given that no institution scored lower than 50% on the DEI audit, implying that this trend is hardly isolated to a handful of campuses.

So why should the average American care? It’s because the academically sound medical professor who gets sidelined today could be the person who could have made strides in cancer treatment tomorrow. The med student passed over for someone with less merit but more “diversity points” may have been the next leading surgeon.

Public funding is another layer of concern. Taxpayers should question why they’re funding schools increasingly devoted to political ideologies. Even for medical schools, more than 40% offer tenure and promotions based on DEI scholarships. This sends a clear message: toe the ideological line to progress in your medical career.

It’s a growing trend that has infiltrated many facets of American society, but when it hits medicine—a field where expertise can be a matter of life and death—it’s time to pause and reevaluate our priorities. Governors and legislatures should indeed require transparency in these matters. Lawmakers should hold hearings on these findings and question whether such schools merit state funding.

Diversity should never come at the expense of scientific rigor and the quality of patient care. After all, when facing life-threatening illnesses, patients do not need a politically acceptable doctor but one most qualified to treat them.