Underrepresented Minorities in Medical School Admissions (Dissertation)

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Currently, a mismatch exists between the race and ethnicity of the U.S. physician workforce and the patients it serves. The federal government, the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), individual medical schools and other organizations are addressing this mismatch in part by focusing on increasing the numbers of racial/ethnic minorities who matriculate into medical schools. However, it is unclear how minority students navigate the medical school admissions process. This study used a grounded theory approach to explore the medical school admissions experiences of a sample of Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino students. The study developed and proposed elements of an emerging conceptual model for understanding the reasons why participants applied to medical school, as well as the facilitators and barriers they encountered in the admissions process. Participants were purposively selected Black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino medical students who attended 25 U.S. allopathic medical schools nationwide. Phase 1 included 29 telephone interviews with individual participants and four in-person interviews in groups of two students each. Phase 2 consisted of feedback sessions with five of the original participants to verify four emergent themes: 1) reasons for applying, 2) participants' perceptions of navigating the admissions process, 3) the role and sources of information, guidance, and support, and 4) other forces affecting how participants navigated the admissions process. Reasons for applying to medical school included: perceived fit; prior experience or knowledge; encouragement and role models; desire to help others; perceived benefits; and interest in science. In addition to information, guidance, and support, other forces influenced how participants navigated the admissions process. These forces included: information, guidance and support; finances; preparation; extra programs; extracurricular activities; and attitude. Study findings connect to theories of student college choice and academic capital formation. Findings have implications for research and practice related to advising; reviewing admissions practices; outreach and recruitment; extra programs; mentoring; improved provision of information; and data collection.


Education | Health and Medical Administration | Medical Education | Medicine and Health | Medicine and Health Sciences | Quantitative, Qualitative, Comparative, and Historical Methodologies | Race and Ethnicity | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Sociology


Department of Education, Student Affairs

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