Medical schools want to admit more black students

“Jaycie Dalson’s” path to medical school began with doubts about her belonging.
When she was a first year biomedical science student at the University of Ottawa. She saw photos of graduates from a prestigious program she wanted to enroll in. In the sea of ​​smiling faces, only one looked like his.

Just having one black out of 270 students is not a good sign, “Dalson, now 21, says of the University of Toronto medical school.

She still held on. When she applied to the faculty under the Black Student Application Program. She was accepted, along with 25 other black students. This is the largest contingent since They created this program in 2017.

While the academic requirements remain the same for everyone. This program uses black examiners and interviewers to check applicants’ achievements and 250-word essays, a spokesperson for the faculty explains.

Two more of the country’s 17 medical schools have launched an admissions process aimed. Specifically at black students starting this year: the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.

According to University of Calgary Medical School Admissions Director Remo Panaccione. The arrival of these black and colored reviewers is intended to prevent “conscious or unconscious bias.”

“The creation of this process is only a step in the right direction in our commitment to fight racism and fairness,” he said.

More black doctors will be good news for black patients, says Panaccione.

“Research shows that black patients suffer from poor quality of care due to the lack of black doctors. Our primary obligation, as a medical school, is to meet the needs of the people we serve. This only achieve if our student body reflects the diversity of the population.

The faculty receives approximately 1,700 applications for admission annually. About 150 will receive a positive response, says Panaccione. Competition is fierce because the funding to accommodate more is lacking.

Medical schools have begun to realize the need for greater diversity over the past decade. Students from disadvantaged, rural and racial backgrounds were accepted rather than the usual cohort of wealthy. Mostly white applicants who were fortunate enough to be able to hire tutors to help them prepare for the CASPer admission test.

“Some schools assess characteristics like empathy, teamwork and activism. They also all created this kind of admissions process for native students as well, ”Panaccione said.

Lack of data

According to the president of the Association of Black Medical Students of Canada, Gbolahan Olarewaju, medical schools should collect racial data on applicants for admission. He believes this could help remove barriers to diversity.

A second-year student at the University of British Columbia, he reports that he is the only black among the 288 students in his class.

“We try to avoid this kind of problem by bringing up some kind of concept of a world without race, but if we don’t collect some of this essential data, it is difficult to know where the problem is,” he said. he declares.

The President of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Geneviève Moineau, reports that as part of a pilot project. There is eight faculties ask applicants for admission to provide information on their ethnicity, socio-economic status. economic and state of health.

The association will also launch a survey of all applicants to medical schools. Whether admitted or not, to ask them for detailed information about their background, parents’ education and status in Canada.
“We recognize that without a diverse pool of candidates, we will not be able to create a diverse promotion. We want to ensure diversity and fairness from the moment of nomination. “

Dr. Marjorie Dixon is a fertility specialist from Toronto. Throughout his long university education, his black colleagues were few in number.

According to her, it is high time universities began to recognize the benefits of having black medical students who better understand the social and health challenges faced by black populations.

“We must right the systemic wrongs of the past and propose firm and artificial changes now and make no apologies for them. The system should be sorry that it did not have processes in place to correct past wrongs earlier. ”

Throughout her college career. She heard several of her colleagues and others question her admission to medical school, despite her excellent academic performance.

“When I was younger, I was told that I entered medical school because of a quota. I get asked all the time where I graduated. It’s an inquisition. ”