Bias in the Medical School Admissions Process

The long and cumbersome process of applying to medical schools has finally come to a close this month for applicants starting medical school in the fall. Stressful years of hard work seem to boil down to one or two interviews at each school. Unfortunately, this process can be particularly toiling emotionally and psychologically.

Recent accounts from my peers about encountering prejudice in the application process triggered reflections on my own experiences of encountering racism and sexism as a Muslim woman of color applying to medical schools in this country. I was in the fortunate position of being offered fifteen interviews across the nation. As a Women’s & Gender Studies major at Columbia University, I was excited to talk about my health justice activism, my desire to work with underserved populations in inner-cities, and my hope to expand reproductive rights for women of color in the US. The night before my very first interview, I ironed my new suit, reviewed information about the school, and went over potential bioethical cases that could be thrown at me.

The morning of my interview, I joined other similarly anxious interviewees, making small talk about the weather, our undergraduate majors, and the hassle of making the long trip. After a long tour of the historic library, I rushed through my lunch and briskly walked over to where my first interview would be held.

I was greeted by an older white gentleman who beckoned me in with a smile.

Mistake #1: I lugged in my pink zebra-striped messenger bag, which my advisor later gently told me looked unprofessional.

After a brief exchange about my hometown and where I went to school, my interviewer suddenly professed that he had a burning question on his mind. “I know this is politically incorrect and all but is it okay if I ask you what your thoughts are on Shari’a?”

Mistake #2: I didn’t say no…

Read full article originally published on Aspiring Docs Diaries

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