In 2016, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) launched an educational initiative to support the needs of First Generation college students at all UC campuses. UCOP and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) define a “First Generation” individual (“First Gen”) as “a student without parents/guardians who received a four-year US bachelor's degree.”
Today, nearly one-third of students entering two- or four- year US colleges each year, are First Gen. According to the known literature among undergraduate student populations, First Gen students face distinctive and unique challenges during their time in university. These include lack of college readiness, financial instability, lack of familial support, and low self-esteem. Unfortunately, much of the data describing the First Gen experience is lost after the college years- and there is no research to describe the experiences of First Gen individuals once they move onto graduate school. This study seeks to close a knowledge gap for UCOP, UCLA, and the First gen research literature, by developing a needs assessment survey that describes the graduate school experiences of First Gen college graduates, that are now medical students at the David Geffen School of Medicine (DGSOM) at UCLA.
1) To describe the socio-demographic characteristics of First Gen college graduates who are medical students at the DGSOM
2) To describe the academic experiences, thus far, of First Gen college graduates who are medical students at the DGSOM
3) To assess the career development needs of First Gen college graduates who are medical students at the DGSOM
4) To determine the need for specific social support and educational programming for First Gen college graduates who are medical students at the DGSOM
Design- This project is a cross-sectional study using data from a needs assessment survey.
Population and Setting- The needs assessment tool developed will be administered by electronic mail survey to all medical students enrolled at UCLA, during the Fall of 2018. Students will be recruited by the medical student graduate list-serve with support and buy-in from key educational stakeholders at the DGSOM.
Survey Tool- We conducted an in-depth literature review on First Gen students. We queried the literature and interviewed experts re: First Gen graduate students at UCLA, UCSF and UC Davis. This process resulted in a set of survey questions that would address First Gen experiences at the graduate school level, and thus comprise the DGSOM First Gen Needs Assessment. The survey questions encompassed the following domains: 1) Academic Program 2) Demographics and Family Background 3) Educational Trajectory, and 4) Career Planning.
We will calculate the percentage of medical students at the DGSOM who are characterized as First Gen (by parents’ highest educational attainment) in our respondent pool. We will then describe the demographic characteristics (e.g. race, gender, marital status, income level), factors motivating decisions to pursue graduate/medical school, support variables in the medical school application process, well-being and belonging at DGSOM, and factors affecting career planning amongst these First Gen DGSOM individuals. Finally, we will compare the above findings between medical students who are First Gen versus those that are not categorized as First Gen. Statistical software (Stata Corp) will be used for all analyses and a p-value of <0.05 will be used to determine statistical significance.
As the First Gen population continues to expand across universities, it will be necessary to further characterize these diverse students at the graduate/medical school level. Data from this survey will help medical school administrators and leaders address the language and approaches in the medical education curriculum, student orientation/welcome, mentorship, community building, residency/career decision-making, and academic support programs. These results will be particularly timely as the UC medical schools and health systems are now training 50% of California’s diverse physician workforce. Next steps for this project include: administration of this First Gen needs assessment at the DGSOM, and possibly among other medical schools in the UC network. This needs assessment is a formative first step towards innovations that will maximize the potential of First Gen students while in medical school. Not only will these innovations support a more diverse physician workforce, but they will also help mitigate health care disparities.