Black students left medical training at higher rate than White students

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Study examines attrition rates over nine-year period.

Black students left medical training at higher rate than White students | Image Credit: © Nikish H/peopleimages.com - © Nikish H/peopleimages.com - stock.adobe.com.

Black students left medical training at higher rate than White students | Image Credit: © Nikish H/peopleimages.com - © Nikish H/peopleimages.com - stock.adobe.com.

Black students were more likely to leave medical and doctoral training than White students in the early 2000s.

Researchers found “significant racial and ethnic disparities in attrition” from MD-PhD training, with Black students having more than 50% higher odds of leaving than their peers.

“Notably, compared with 17% of White students, 29% of Black MD-PhD students did not complete their training,” said the research letter, “Association of Racial and Ethnic Identity With Attrition From MD-PhD Training Programs,” published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study examined 4,702 students in MD-PhD programs from 2004 to 2012. Among them:

  • 1,803 were female
  • 215 identified as Black
  • 265 identified as Hispanic. Among them:
  • 3,932, or 83.6%, completed their MD-PhD training.
  • 578, or 12.3%, graduated with medical doctor degrees.
  • 192, or 4.1%, left medical school.

Proportionally, more Black than White MD-PhD left medical school, and the odds of graduating with only an MD degree and leaving medical school were 50% and 83% higher for Black students than for White students, respectively, the study said.

“The disparity in attrition for Black MD-PhD students could have implications for the racial diversity of the biomedical workforce,” the study said. “The benefits of a diverse workforce are well documented and include improved translational patient care and innovation.”

Researchers noted Black scientists have done innovative work but are less likely to receive financial support from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 2020, less than 2% of NIH investigators identified as Black, the study said.

This article was published by our sister publication Medical Economics.

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raanan meyer, md
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