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Racial and Ethnic Differences in Barriers Faced by Medical College Admission Test Examinees and Their Association With Medical School Application and Matriculation.
Faiz J, Essien UR, Washington DL, Ly DP. Racial and Ethnic Differences in Barriers Faced by Medical College Admission Test Examinees and Their Association With Medical School Application and Matriculation. JAMA health forum. 2023 Apr 7; 4(4):e230498.
There has been disappointing progress in enrollment of medical students from racial and ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine, including American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic students. Barriers that may influence students interested in medicine are understudied.
To examine racial and ethnic differences in barriers faced by students taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:
This cross-sectional study used survey data (surveys administered between January 1, 2015, to December 31, 2018) from MCAT examinees linked with application and matriculation data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Data analyses were performed from November 1, 2021, to January 31, 2023.
MAIN VARIABLES AND OUTCOMES:
Main outcomes were medical school application and matriculation. Key independent variables reflected parental educational level, financial and educational barriers, extracurricular opportunities, and interpersonal discrimination.
The sample included 81?755 MCAT examinees (0.3% American Indian or Alaska Native, 21.3% Asian, 10.1% Black, 8.0% Hispanic, and 60.4% White; 56.9% female). There were racial and ethnic differences in reported barriers. For example, after adjustment for demographic characteristics and examination year, 39.0% (95% CI, 32.3%-45.8%) of American Indian or Alaska Native examinees, 35.1% (95% CI, 34.0%-36.2%) of Black examinees, and 46.6% (95% CI, 45.4%-47.9%) of Hispanic examinees reported having no parent with a college degree compared with 20.4% (95% CI, 20.0%-20.8%) of White examinees. After adjustment for demographic characteristics and examination year, Black examinees (77.8%; 95% CI, 76.9%-78.7%) and Hispanic examinees (71.3%; 95% CI, 70.2%-72.4%) were less likely than White examinees (80.2%; 95% CI, 79.8%-80.5%) to apply to medical school. Black examinees (40.6%; 95% CI, 39.5%-41.7%) and Hispanic examinees (40.2%; 95% CI, 39.0%-41.4%) were also less likely than White examinees (45.0%; 95% CI, 44.6%-45.5%) to matriculate at medical school. Examined barriers were associated with a lower likelihood of medical school application and matriculation (eg, examinees having no parent with a college degree had lower odds of applying [odds ratio, 0.65; 95% CI, 0.61-0.69] and matriculating [odds ratio, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.59-0.66]). Black-White and Hispanic-White disparities in application and matriculation were largely accounted for by differences in these barriers.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:
In this cross-sectional study of MCAT examinees, American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic students reported lower parental educational levels, greater educational and financial barriers, and greater discouragement from prehealth advisers than White students. These barriers may deter groups underrepresented in medicine from applying to and matriculating at medical school.