The Leaky Pipeline: Factors Associated With Early Decline in Interest in Premedical Studies Among Underrepresented Minority Undergraduate Students

Department of Sociology, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305-2047, USA.
Academic medicine: journal of the Association of American Medical Colleges (Impact Factor: 2.93). 06/2008; 83(5):503-11. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31816bda16
Source: PubMed


To determine the causes among underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups (URM) of a decline in interest during the undergraduate years in pursuing a career in medicine.
From fall 2002 through 2007, the authors conducted a longitudinal study of 362 incoming Stanford freshmen (23% URM) who indicated on a freshman survey that they hoped to become physicians. Using a 10-point scale of interest, the authors measured the change in students' levels of interest in continuing premedical studies between the beginning of freshman year and the end of sophomore year. Follow-up interviews were conducted with 68 participants, approximately half of whom had experienced decreases in interest in continuing as premeds, and half of whom who had experienced increases in interest.
URM students showed a larger decline in interest than did non-URM students; women showed a larger decline than did men, independent of race or ethnicity. The authors found no association between scholastic ability as measured by SAT scores and changes in level of interest. The principal reason given by students for their loss of interest in continuing as premeds was a negative experience in one or more chemistry courses. Students also identified problems in the university's undergraduate advising system as a contributor.
Largely because of negative experiences with chemistry classes, URM students and women show a disproportionate decline in interest in continuing in premedical studies, with the result that fewer apply to medical school.

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    • "The Association of American Medical Colleges has noted similar recent findings, where ethnic and racial minorities are now more likely to choose science majors in college than they were before (Association of American Medical Colleges 2006) but are less likely to apply to medical school. Barr et al., studied the decline of continued interest in premed studies in URM students and found that the major explanations given were negative experiences with chemistry classes and student advising (Barr et al. 2008). Efforts to diversify the nation's health workforce have been sporadic, and " siloed. "
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    Journal of Genetic Counseling 08/2011; 20(6):547-55. DOI:10.1007/s10897-011-9402-9 · 2.24 Impact Factor
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    • "Chemistry represents a challenge for many college students interested in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematic (STEM) fields, which comprise the technological backbone of a nation. In particular, certain courses within chemistry, such as introduction to Organic chemistry (O-Chem), serve as 'gatekeepers' that discourage students and lead them to question their ability to succeed in science (Lovecchio and Dundes, 2002; Barr et al., 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education has become a key focus in the U.S. government's public education agenda. Many STEM degrees require the successful completion of undergraduate introductory organic chemistry (O-Chem), which is notorious for its difficulty and high attrition rate. Concept Maps (CM) have been used as a tool to improve teaching and learning by providing feedback to teacher and students. Although numerous studies have examined the use of concept maps (CMs) as an assessment tool in science classes, none to date has examined such applications of CMs in O-Chem. Furthermore, studies investigating the validity of CMs in post-secondary science courses are rare. Thus, the present study investigated the validity of CMs as an assessment tool and their diagnostic uses in O-Chem by examining the relationship between CM scores and other key performance measures in O-Chem. Results indicated that CM scores were significantly correlated with problem set scores and final course grade. In addition, a mediation analysis revealed that problem solving scores partially mediated the relationship between problem solving and final course grade, confirming the role CMs are expected to play in O-Chem achievement. Implications for using CMs as diagnostic and formative tools in instruction are discussed.
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    • "Thus, the students who respond " un-ion-ized " to the prompt of unionized are doing so likely because they can see only the " trees " of organic chemistry and do not appreciate how the disparate facts of the pre-medical curriculum fit into a coherent framework. Perhaps most surprising is not that both students and faculty are unsatisfied with the current state of pre-medical education, but that there is really a serious dearth of data analyzing the effectiveness of this system (Barr et al. 2008; Gross et al. 2008). Like many aspects of education, it has persisted probably because it is a truly daunting task to thoughtfully address the issues and come up with a plan to improve it. "
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