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January 17, 2007

Increasing Medical School Matriculation for Minority Students

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(3):264-265. doi:10.1001/jama.297.3.264-c

In Reply: Drs Dyrbye and Shanafelt appropriately call attention to the need to consider the full continuum of support for underrepresented minority and disadvantaged students, beginning with the premedical stages of their education and extending through medical school and beyond. The data they cite certainly highlight many of the pressures in the medical school experience that minority students may experience to a greater degree than nonminority students.

In view of these data, it is all the more impressive that minority students succeed as well as they do once they matriculate into medical school. As our study reported, more than 90% of the students from the University of California postbaccalaureate programs who matriculated into medical school graduated within 5 years of matriculation. Other studies have also documented the relatively high rates of graduation and of subsequent medical licensure among disadvantaged students.1 At the same time that underrepresented minority student enrollment in US medical schools has decreased as a percentage of first-year students, the number of underrepresented minority students graduating from 4-year colleges has been steadily increasing. We endorse the notion of providing a continuum of support, while calling attention to the critical need for programs that can assist talented and qualified college and postbaccalaureate students from disadvantaged backgrounds “over the hump” of successfully applying to medical school.

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