Myth: Minorities past records of having lower scores on the MCAT and having lower GPAs reflects their collective lack of cognitive abilities. False: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11302036&query_hl=10 Do underrepresented minority medical students differ from non-minority students in problem-solving ability? BACKGROUND: In medical education, examinations must assess a logical progression toward problem-solving skills. Differences in cognitive development between underrepresented minority students (URMs) and non-URMs may affect examination performance and subsequent attrition rates. PURPOSE: The authors investigated URM and non-URM performances by retrospectively analyzing success rates on exam items of differing cognitive demand. METHOD: Mean correct responses to exam items classified as Recall, Interpretation, or Problem-Solving questions were calculated. Both URM and non-URM groups were stratified by grade point average (GPA) and scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Differences were investigated with analysis of variance and general linear models. RESULTS: For all students, performance levels decreased as the cognitive demands of the exam items increased. When stratified by GPA and MCAT score, several important differences were found between URM and non-URM performance. CONCLUSIONS: Because cognitive measures fail to account for the majority of performance differences, noncognitive attributes must contribute to the poorer performance of URMs. Myth: Inherent mental capability is the best predictor for who will do well on the MCAT. There have also been studies that show a strong positive correlation between parental income and MCAT scores. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7495461&dopt=Abstract PURPOSE. To test the hypothesis that family financial status is associated with the academic performance of a medical student. METHOD. The relationships between parental income and mean scores on the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 were examined for the students in the 1994 and 1995 graduating classes at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School who had applied for financial aid in 1991 and reported annual parental income. Pearson correlations were used to analyze separately the data for minority and majority students, for men and women, and for the four subgroups by gender and race-ethnicity. RESULTS. The final study cohort consisted of 192 students (55% of all students). Significant positive correlations were found between the (1) MCAT and USMLE Step 1 for the women, men, majority, and minority students, (2) MCAT and parental income for the subgroups of majority men and minority women, and (3) USMLE Step 1 and parental income for the subgroup of minority women. CONCLUSION. Parental income was correlated significantly with performances on the MCAT and USMLE Step 1. These relationships may be particularly strong and persistent for minority women. Facts: On average, minority applicants come from families of much lower socio-economic status; Source: http://www.unmc.edu/Community/ruralmeded/admissions_ratios_and_us_med.htm Myth: There have been no studies proving that URMs actually go on to work in underprivileged areas. The bar is simply lowered for URMs without any proven results. Source: http://www.aamc.org/diversity/amicusbrief.pdf Minority physicians are more likely to serve minority patients even when controlling for premedical school performance and socio-economic backgrounds Minority patients were over four times more likely to receive care from non-white physicians than were Caucasian patients African American physicians practiced in areas where the percentage of African Americans was nearly five times as high, on average, as in areas where other physicians practiced Although black physicians account for less than 5% of the total US physician workforce, they serve as regular health care providers for 23% of black individuals. The article goes on to quote studies that show minorities are more likely than other ethnic groups to go into primary care, serve uninsured populations, give care to individuals using medicade, and (yes) practice in under served areas. Myth: there are FEWER URMs in medicine because under represented minorities are, on average, lazier than non-URMs or because these individuals are afraid they cant hack it in medical school. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=14507613&query_hl=16 Against this background, applications by members of racial and ethnic minorities, who represent an increasing fraction of the college age population, become particularly important. The author reports the trends in education, over several decades, by members of the principal racial-ethnic groups-whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians-traces their participation from kindergarten through college, and projects the likelihood of their applying to medical school over the next two decades. (A companion article in this issue reports a parallel study from the standpoint of gender.) One prominent observation is the firm link between academic achievement in the earliest grades and success thereafter. A second is the profound influence of parents' education, income, and expectations at each step along the way. Inadequacies in either sphere erode the potential for children to reach college and to do so in ways that predict interest in and capacity for medical school. Yet, even when that potential emerges, inadequate finances deflect qualified high school and college students from the paths that lead to medical education. These factors weigh most heavily on black and Hispanic children, particularly boys, but are prevalent among whites, as well. Without aggressive education in the earliest years and without adequate financial support in the later years, it is not clear that there will be a sufficiently large pool of qualified applicants for the number of medical school seats that must exist in the future. Myth: Considering race and ethnicity compromises physician competence. Source: http://www.aamc.org/diversity/amicusbrief.pdf Medical school retention rate for URM students is, on average, 88%. This is the percentage of URMs that pass their required tests and go on to be practicing physicians. Before you note that this percentage is lower than for other groups, consider the fact that there are far fewer minorities in US medical schools than other students. If one minority drops out of medical school, he represents a much larger percentage of the entire class. Conversely, one non-URM student represents a smaller percentage of that ethnic groups entire population. (i.e. if 1 out of 6 URM drops out of school, the drop out rate for URMs is 17%. If 1 out of 100 non-URM students drops out of medical school, the drop out rate for non-URMs is 1%). Myth: The primary goal of AA in medicine is to give students from disadvantaged backgrounds a break on admissions. Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=13678423&query_hl=32 The consideration of race in medical admissions is not based on the individual, but on the entire US population. There are staggering health disparities that affect those groups that are traditionally under represented in medicine. Admiting more URMs has been the only proven way to directly remedy these disparities. Myth: Programs based on socio-economic status would do better at admitting minorities and those who truly need the help. Source: http://www.pubmedcentral.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pubmed&pubmedid=13678423 Remember the primary goal of considering race and ethnicity in medicine is to diversify the medical community. No race-neutral factor can effectively substitute for direct consideration of race for admissions. For example, substituting economic hardship for race in admissions decisions would not address the pressing need to increase the number of minority physicians being trained in America. Studies confirm that the relationship between a physicians race or gender and his willingness to care for underserved populations was significantly more pronounced than the relationship between a physicians socioeconomic background and his commitment to these same groups.