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 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.
“This 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.