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Crossing the bridge to diversity: Success in medical school for students who are underrepresented in medicine

Hugh Stoddard, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The medical education community has been called to respond to a persistent disparity in health care for ethnic minorities in the United States. Alleviating these disparities requires an increase in the number of medical school applicants, matriculants, and graduates who represent populations that are underrepresented in medicine (URM). This quantitative study used data collected at one public medical school to analyze the measurable factors which contribute to performance in medical school, and compared URM students to non-URM students on those factors. Qualitative analysis finds that these results extend to other accredited, public, medical schools located in the central United States. ^ The data analyzed by this study included: admission applications, grades earned during basic science and clinical courses in medical school, and cumulative grades. The study employed correlational methods to find relationships between these sets of variables. Given these relationships, the data was disaggregated to determine if these cognitive measurements were equally valid in understanding the performance of URM students as for the majority students. Undergraduate GPAs were mathematically adjusted to compensate for differences in undergraduate institutions. Adjusted science and non-science GPAs and scores on the three MCAT sub-tests were found to be significant predictors of performance in all medical school courses. Student's age and undergraduate major were significant for predicting basic science scores, but not clinical scores. Clinical grades were predicted from: grades earned during the first two years, and undergraduate GPAs. ^ These statistical models predicted the medical school grades of both URM and non-URM students equally well. The fact that URM students had lower overall grades in medical school than non-URM students was expected, due to the finding that their MCAT scores and undergraduate GPAs were also lower. There was no evidence that URM students had more academic difficulty in medical school than comparably qualified non-URM students; the lower grades for URM students was attributed to inferior pre-medical school preparation. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Education|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Hugh Stoddard, "Crossing the bridge to diversity: Success in medical school for students who are underrepresented in medicine" (January 1, 2005). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. Paper AAI3176805.