Challenges and advice for MD/PhD applicants who are underrepresented in medicine

Mol Biol Cell. 2020 Nov 15;31(24):2640-2643. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E20-07-0444.


The importance of diversity is self-evident in medicine and medical research. Not only does diversity result in more impactful scientific work, but diverse teams of researchers and clinicians are necessary to address health disparities and improve the health of underserved communities. MD/PhD programs serve an important role in training physician-scientists, so it is critical to ensure that MD/PhD students represent diverse backgrounds and experiences. Groups who are underrepresented in medicine and the biomedical sciences include individuals from certain racial and ethnic backgrounds, individuals with disabilities, individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, and women. However, underrepresented students are routinely discouraged from applying to MD/PhD programs due to a range of factors. These factors include the significant cost of applying, which can be prohibitive for many students, the paucity of diverse mentors who share common experiences, as well as applicants’ perceptions that there is inadequate support and inclusion from within MD/PhD programs. By providing advice to students who are underrepresented in medicine and describing steps programs can take to recruit and support minority applicants, we hope to encourage more students to consider the MD/PhD career path that will yield a more productive and equitable scientific and medical community.

PMID:33180675 | DOI:10.1091/mbc.E20-07-0444