A recent Yale study indicates that students from marginalized groups leave medical school at higher rates than their peers.
The findings, researchers say, have implications for health care access and patients, both of which are harmed when the medical workforce lacks diversity.
The study published July 11 in JAMA Internal Medicine and examined data from students who matriculated at U.S. medical schools during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years. It found that students who identified as an underrepresented race or ethnicity, came from a family with low income, or came from an underresourced neighborhood were more likely to leave their programs early compared to students who were not from a marginalized group.
Yale News reported that students in the study, who identified with multiple marginalized identities — such as having families with low income and coming from an underresourced neighborhood — had even higher attrition rates, with the highest attrition rates observed among students who identified with all three marginalized groups.
“We know that each marginalized identity brings its own unique challenges,” said Mytien Nguyen, an M.D.-Ph.D. student at Yale School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “So with multiple marginalized identities, we have compounding challenges.”
Some of the actions proposed by the research team include tuition and debt reform, more flexible training pathways, greater focus on mentorship, and addressing discrimination, mistreatment, and cultures of exclusion, according to Yale News.
“One of the more evidence-based methods for decreasing implicit bias and improving inter-group contact is increasing the number of faculty from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Dowin Boatright, assistant professor of emergency medicine and senior author of the study. “It’s a very simple intervention that I still don’t think many medical schools pursue.”