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Reducing Medical School Admissions Disparities in an Era of Legal Restrictions: Adjusting for Applicant Socioeconomic Disadvantage.

  • Author(s): Fenton, Joshua J;
  • Fiscella, Kevin;
  • Jerant, Anthony F;
  • Sousa, Francis;
  • Henderson, Mark;
  • Fancher, Tonya;
  • Franks, Peter
  • et al.

A diverse physician workforce is needed to increase access to care for underserved populations, particularly as the Affordable Care Act expands insurance coverage. Yet legal restrictions constrain the extent to which medical schools may use race/ethnicity in admissions decisions. We conducted simulations using academic metrics and socioeconomic data from applicants to a California public medical school from 2011 to 2013. The simulations systematically adjusted medical school applicants' academic metrics for socioeconomic disadvantage. We found that socioeconomic and under-represented minority disparities in admissions could be eliminated while maintaining academic readiness. Adjusting applicant academic metrics using socioeconomic information on medical school applications may be a race-neutral means of increasing the socioeconomic and racial/ethnic diversity of the physician workforce.

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