Minorities in Medicine 

 

Picture this: you walk into a white room and everything looks the same - white furniture, white walls, white everything! Now, what if this were a real workplace and everyone looked the same? Everyone was a clone and had the same personality, ambitions, and even acted the same in terms of their likes/dislikes. This would be a pretty boring place to work. This workplace and several other workplaces in North America lack diversity! Diversity doesn’t just mean race, it can mean an array of different skill sets and backgrounds. You want to have someone who loves lasagna, in the workplace, because they’re passionate. Additionally, you also want someone who worked in Ethiopia on several mission trips, because they are dedicated and understand cultures different from one’s own, along with pressing needs that impact sensitive populations. 

 

This situation is analogous to today’s current medical community - we lack diversity. For instance, physicians in the United States consist of only 9% of African American individuals. This is very alarming because it places these minorities at a disadvantage. Many of them come from different socioeconomic backgrounds. They might have dealt with different barriers, such as having to work three different jobs in a consecutive school year along with being able to pay for standardized testing. For those who may be determined to work those long hours, on top of managing a rigorous school course-load, there is another hurdle - actually applying. Applying itself can take several thousands of dollars - and that’s without the travel cost. You will need to pay for airfare if you get interviews. 

 

This really makes it questionable: do minorities actually stand a chance in today’s day and age to get into medical school and to even afford to apply? The odds are definitely not in our favour which makes it seem like the system is rigged. Additionally, there has also been a lot of speculation about the validity of standardized testing. Picture this: you have months to prepare for this exam. Your parents bought you a nice $1200 prep course and $500 prep material. You then book your exam, after said months pass and pay another $300. Then you get a bad score, retake the exam, spending the same amount of money, and then finally you get a  good score. Now, what if you didn’t have those financial assets? What if you were working from 9 am to 5 pm and worked three jobs? Would this process seem as easy? Nope, it would be more daunting. This is also the harsh reality that minorities may face - many of us don’t get multiple chances to rewrite tests due to the staggering costs of test-prep. 

 

Although the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) is making strong efforts to assist students in need, via FAFSA and fee-waiver programs, there is still quite a substantial amount that needs to be paid to even apply to medical programs in the country. This needs to change because applying should not be as tolling - especially since the applicant may have to reapply considering how competitive this field is getting. No one should have to work three jobs just to apply to get rejected. Here is some useful scientific literature on the topic: 

https://insights.ovid.com/crossref?an=00001888-199011000-00001

https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/193031