Background: There is a significant underrepresentation of Latino physicians in the United States. In California where more than 40% of the population is Latino, only 5% of physicians and 16.5% of medical students share this background. This mismatch in patient-physician concordance may contribute to disparities in care. Latino and other underrepresented minority (URM) pre-medical students face additional socioeconomic barriers, including the lack of mentorship, guidance, and support when applying to medical school.
Methods: The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of the year-long Medical School Ready (MSR) program to prepare and matriculate URM into medical school. Through MiMentor, a national online mentoring platform, 63 students from California applied to the program. Participants were surveyed in 2017–2018 before and after completion of the MSR program. Outcomes included support, confidence in getting into medical school, confidence in sharing personal story, self-rated verbal communication skills, self-rated written communication skills, and action plan for medical school application. Descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis using STATA software were used to assess statistical significance.
Results: Program applicants: 90% (57) were URMs, 83% (52) Latino, 71% (45) women, 78% (49) first generation college students, and 52% (33) received the AMCAS Fee Assistance Program (FAP). Out of 62 MSR applicants, 63% (39) completed the MSR program, and 84% (33) applied to medical school. Out of those who applied to medical school, 55% (18) were accepted into medical school. We found a statically significant unadjusted improvement in the mean scores for 1) level of support, 2) confidence in getting into medical school, 3) confidence in sharing personal story, 4) self-rated verbal communication skills, 5) self-rated written communication skills, and 6) action plan for medical school application (all p < 0.001).
Conclusion: A holistic approach, including the use of online mentoring, to recruit and retain medical school applicants was feasible. Of those who applied, a larger percentage were accepted to medical school when compared to national acceptance rates. Our future research will seek to understand the drivers in the program that help students prepare a successful application, and control for other important student level confounders of medical school matriculation.