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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    • "Anecdotal evidence and small-scale studies have identfed several course-related factors that may explain why students lose their interest in STEM programs, including negatve experiences encountered in gatekeeper or introductory math and science courses; limited exposure to STEM coursework in the frst 2 years in college; and poor performance in STEM courses, especially relatve to performance in non-STEM courses (Betnger, 2010; Barr, Gonzalez & Wanat, 2008; Mervis, 2010; Ost, 2010; Rask, 2010; Seymour, 2001; Seymour & Hewit, 1997; Stnebrickner & Stnebrickner, 2011). These fndings, however, have not been validated using natonally representatve data. "

    03/2015; 5(1). DOI:10.3926/jotse.136
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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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    ABSTRACT: Diversifying the nation's health professions is essential in order to maintain a vigorous health workforce, able to respond to the needs of all Americans. The inability of the health workforce to keep pace with the changing demographics of the nation is a major cause of the persistent inequities in access to quality health care for ethnic and racial minorities in the U.S. Ethnic and racial minorities have been underrepresented in the genetic counseling profession since its inception, despite vigorous professional initiatives to remedy this situation. Mittman and Downs published a critical review of these initiatives detailing recommendations for change in this journal in 2008. One of their major recommendations was the need to learn from, and join, efforts with other health professions in seeking to increase professional diversity in genetic counseling. This paper reviews new findings on issues impacting health workforce diversity in the nation, presents a case study of a national best practice to diversify the health workforce and illuminates actions that can be taken by the genetic counseling profession. The Sullivan Alliance to Diversify the Health Professions is a culmination of two historic initiatives for addressing the dearth of minority health professionals and is a national catalyst for increasing diversity within the health professions by forging state collaborations among institutions of higher education, health professions schools and other key stakeholders.
    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.
    04/2011; 12(2):133-141. DOI:10.1039/C1RP90018H
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