Underrespresented minority medical (URiM) students: a social work approach to identifying factors affecting their experience

Richards, Regina D., author
Buchan, Victoria, advisor
Gandy, John, committee member
Jennings, Louise, committee member
Scott, Malcolm, committee member
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A major injustice in the United States is the wide disparity in health care across racial/ethnic, gender and economic lines. The lack of URiM (underrepresented in medicine) physicians is a major cause of health care disparities: health care is enhanced when the physician is race-concordant with the patient. Many URiM students have negative experiences that can impact their motivation, performance, well-being and future careers. The major goal of this research is to gain an understanding of URiM student experience as a basis for changes within the student's Ecosystem. Using a social work approach and thematic analysis to gain a better understanding of the URiM experience at the University of Colorado School of Medicine (CU SOM), four themes emerged: (a) Overall Experience: URiM experience is multifactorial, reflecting positive, negative and ambivalent experiences and can change through time. (b) Impacts of Explicit Racism, Microaggressions and Low/Insufficient Diversity. (c) Negative Impact of Incongruence: URiM students expressed dissatisfaction at the incongruence between the medical school messaging about valuing diversity and the reality experienced by the students. (d) Sense of Belonging: multifactorial and dynamic: It is a significant factor in student experience, has multiple meanings for the students, and can change through time. In addition to the above four themes, one key result is a new definition of Sense of Belonging. Student recommendations combined with the researcher's experience were used to generate implications for programs and student support services. These results can be used to inform program development, coaching, advising and system level improvements. This will achieve the research goal of improving the experiences of URiM students and thus potentially their motivation, performance, well-being and future careers.
2020 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
Rights Access
sense of belonging
URiM medical student experience
social work and medical education
diversity in education
Associated Publications