The Role of Socioeconomic Status in Medical School Admissions – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

The Role of Socioeconomic Status in Medical School Admissions

Olivia Rocco


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: 4

Event Link


Occupational diversity is an area that has increasingly received attention. Lack of diversity in professional careers is a problem because it encourages a system of inequality and discrimination within society. Lack of diversity is especially problematic in health professions (Frazer, 2005). While many articles on occupational diversity focus on racial/ethnic or gender diversity, other types of diversity, such as socioeconomic status are less frequently mentioned. Socioeconomic status plays a very influential role in determining who enters professional careers (Cooter et al., 2004). Persons with higher socioeconomic status are much more likely to be accepted into medical school, resulting in an underrepresentation of medical students of lower socioeconomic status. I conducted this literature review to identify factors that contribute to students of low socioeconomic status being at a disadvantage when applying to medical school. Three major databases – PsychInfo, PubMed, and ProQuest – were used to find articles that explore the relationship between socioeconomic status and acceptance into medical school. My review includes 11 articles. Information regarding the effect of socioeconomic status on medical school admission outcomes, factors related to socioeconomic status that account for this, and implications of this effect were extracted from these articles. My findings suggest that there is a positive correlation between one’s socioeconomic status and being admitted to medical school. This means that the lower a student’s socioeconomic status, the less likely they are to gain admission to medical school. Overall, low socioeconomic status places students at a disadvantage for a multitude of reasons and ultimately serves as a barrier to entering the medical field. Three factors associated with SES were found to have the largest influence: familial wealth, educational attainment, and debt. I discuss the findings in terms of health inequities that arrive from a lack of income diversity in the medical field, as well as strategies that medical schools can implement in order to recruit and retain low SES students.

Authors: Olivia Rocco
Research Method: Library/Archival/Internet Research

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