How Does Affirmative Action Affect Medical School Admissions

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Session 158

This week, our poster is from Canada planning to apply to medical school who is curious whether there the U.S. has got some affirmative action policies in place to help support underrepresented applicants get into medical schools.

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[01:40] OldPreMeds Question of the Week:

“I’m writing from Canada. I’m a medice woman and I’m planning to apply to medicine this year. I’m a nontraditional applicant as I have a Bachelor’s of Psychiatric Nursing, which in and of itself, adds some complexity to my application both positive and negative. In Canada, there are affirmative action policies in place in many universities to address the underrepresentation of indigenous doctors. Personally, I am very glad this is in place as I see this great need for indigenous representation in medicine. I haven’t seen any forums on this topic. Is this the same case in the states? I’m hoping to gain some perspective on applying as an indigenous applicant. Any other indigenous applicants on this forum? Any knowledge that can be gleaned from Dr. Gray?”

[02:40] Affirmative Action

As of this recording, it’s December 2018. Affirmative action is in the news, especially in the states, because of Harvard and their policy seems to be towards Asian applicants to Harvard. Affirmative action seems to be coming up and down and all around in legal channels. In 2017, this was challenged a bit through a case and it was upheld.

[Tweet “”There is an underrepresentation of minorities in medicine and so we need some laws unfortunately because the majority of people running things are old, white men.””]

Yes, affirmative action happens in the United States and this is a good thing. We need laws that would accept students that would represent the U.S. as a whole, that means more races, from every walk of life.

[03:57] Diversity in Classes

[Tweet “”We need more students from everywhere, from every walk of life. We need those students in medicine because we have a population that looks like that.””]

It’s great to see how the University of Colorado where I teach that they’re showing diversity among the LGBT community, African-Americans, etc. So they’re really trying to bring diversity into their class – people with diverse backgrounds and diverse thinking. What that brings to the class helps the class and helps the educational environment of everybody.

There was U.S. medical school that recently got in trouble because of the lack of diversity. Their classes were lacking that. And so they kind of got slapped on the wrist because of that. So schools are really trying out there to bring diversity in. At the core of it all, humans have their own biases and that comes into play with admissions. However, we try to constantly get better with that that’s why we need these policies in place to force some people into that sort of thinking even if they don’t like it.

[Tweet “”As a community of medical schools accepting students, we are constantly trying to raise that bar to get our classes looking like what your population looks like.””]

In fact, the first time ever, women applicants and matriculants outnumbered male applicants and matriculants. So now, we’re starting to get that balance between male and female. We just have to continue to work on the different ethnicities, races, socio-economic, etc.


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