Kaplan Survey: Majority of Medical Schools Express Solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement, but Only Half Have a Specific Program to Recruit Black Students

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 917.822.8190
Twitter: @KaplanEdNews, @KaplanMCATPrep

New York, NY (February 16, 2021) — Kaplan’s 2020 medical school admissions officers survey finds that while medical schools are largely supportive of America’s most prominent social justice movement, far fewer have specific programs to increase the number of Black students at their school*. Of the medical schools polled, 88 percent said they put out a statement to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement. When prompted why they decided to take a public position, admissions officers shared the following:

  • “Doctors are trained to be able to provide care for all demographics and populations. This was an important issue to address because of its impact not only on the community as a whole, but in particular the suffering that is taking place in the Black community. Providers have a responsibility to understand what impacts the populations they serve.”
  • “It was important to members of our community to see that the school cared; it was important to reflect as a school on our own record and efforts and think about what more we can do to end systemic racism and injustice; it is especially important given so many issues surrounding medicinelevels of justifiable distrust for doctors given historical incidents, impacts on research when diverse volunteers can’t be recruited, and impacts of comments of physicians to patients that are insensitive or impacts of patient comments to physicians of diverse backgrounds.”
  • “Our communities of color have been hit disproportionately hard by COVID infection and death rates leading to stress and anxiety, which have been further exacerbated by events playing out across our nation and within our own community. The recent tragic events reopen wounds cut by historical contexts and as these incidents occur, we are all impacted; but none more so than our African American colleagues.”

But while the overwhelming majority of medical schools support BLM, only about half (48 percent) said they have a specific program to recruit Black applicants. One admissions officer whose school does not have such a program shared, “At the time, the population of Black residents in my city does not warrant a specific stream for Black applicants.”

“It was important for many medical students and pre-meds that medical schools put out strong statements expressing solidarity with BLM, but it is equally if not more important for medical schools to implement strong, ongoing policies to ensure a diverse and inclusive student body. Many are already doing that and we think that is likely to improve and increase over the coming years,” said Petros Minasi, senior director of pre-health programs, Kaplan. “At Kaplan, we are proud to be part of those efforts to diversify the medical profession. We currently work with more than 30 HBCUs across the country to provide MCAT® courses at lower tuition costs. As much as we can, we want to break down racial barriers and eliminate roadblocks due to financial need.”

The Kaplan survey also found that when asked to grade medical schools as a whole on diversity, in relation to recruiting and admitting students from different backgrounds, 7 percent of admissions officers awarded an “A”; 41 percent, a “B”; 38 percent, a “C”; 12 percent, a “D”; and 2 percent, an “F.”

The survey results come on the heels of a recent report by the Association of American Medical Colleges showing that the number of Black first-year students increased by 10.5 percent nationwide. Black students made up 9.5 percent of first-year students in 2020, up from 8.8 percent last year. Of particular note are the increases among Black men. First-year students from this demographic group increased 12.2 percent. The percentage of all doctors in the workforce who are Black is less than five percent, though these application and enrollment numbers could signal a significant increase in the next decade.

To schedule an interview with a medical school admissions expert at Kaplan, contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 917.822.8190.

*Admissions officers from 58 accredited medical schools across North America were polled by e-mail between August and September 2020. Percentages are rounded up to the nearest whole number.

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About Kaplan

Kaplan is a global educational services company that provides individuals, universities, and businesses with a diverse array of services, including higher and professional education, test preparation, language training, corporate and leadership training, and student recruitment, online enablement and other university support services. With operations in nearly 30 countries, Kaplan serves nearly 1.1 million students each year and has partnerships with 2,000-plus universities, colleges, and schools/school districts, and more than 4,000 businesses globally. Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC). For more information, please visit www.kaptest.com.  

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