Racial Bias in Medical School Admissions – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Racial Bias in Medical School Admissions

Stuti Shankar


Pronouns: she/her

Research Mentor(s): Angela Ebreo, Associate Research Scientist
Research Mentor School/College/Department: Diversity Research & Policy Program, School of Education
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 11
Presenter: 5

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Currently, the diversity of doctors and healthcare workers is not matching the increasing diversity of Americans (Boscardin, 2015). This lack of diversity contributes to health inequities – many patients of color avoid hospital visits because they feel as if they will not be listened to. In fact, it is proven that Latinx people and African American people utilize healthcare less, even when they have adequate access to healthcare (Ashton, 2003). Additionally, White clinicians may have a negative internal bias (e.g., implicit bias) towards patients of color which affects their treatment decisions. Research (e.g. Steiner, 2013) demonstrates that BIPOC physicians are less likely to have internal biases towards patients of color. Other research (e.g., Dennis, 2001) indicates that African American physicians are four times as likely to provide care to patients of color. Therefore, by increasing the diversity of healthcare professionals, patients of color will be more likely to receive the treatments they need, resulting in the reduction of some healthcare inequities. Diversity in the physician workforce can be facilitated by increasing the number of BIPOC students that are admitted to, and retained in, medical school. However, students of color may be discouraged from pursuing a career in medicine due to racial bias. My review focuses on various types of racial biases that BIPOC applicants face in the admissions process. Across the 15 articles I reviewed, I found that racial bias can occur in many critical stages: during reviews of application materials and letters of recommendation, applicant interviews, and the interpretation of MCAT scores. Additionally, I reviewed articles to identify some strategies that medical schools might implement to minimize the effect of racial bias. I discuss the implications of these studies, and future strategies that medical schools should take to combat racial bias.

Authors: Stuti Shankar
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

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