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Study: Self-Affirmation May Help Black Medical Students Reach Residency Goals

Self-affirmation – reflecting upon one’s most important values – can help Black medical students reach residency goals but can lead to the perception that they are less qualified for a prestigious residency than their peers, according to a new study from Northwestern University.

Dr. Sylvia PerryDr. Sylvia Perry

Dr. Sylvia Perry, assistant professor of psychology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, is lead author of the study.

The study – published in the Journal of Social Issues – found that Black med students reported higher levels of fatigue, lower sense of belonging and greater likelihood of changing medical residency plans than White counterparts.

One finding was that self-affirmation lowered competitiveness for prestigious residencies.

β€œThis would suggest that if Black medical students are not properly supported during their training, then self-affirming may lead them to accept that extremely competitive residency is unobtainable,” Perry said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted racial disparities in healthcare quality. Black Americans are largely underrepresented as medical physicians.

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