Mistreatment linked to medical school attrition

Students who reported mistreatment and discrimination in the first two years of medical school were more likely to leave school, according to a study published May 31 in JAMA Pediatrics.

The retrospective cohort study is based on a survey of 18,534 medical students. The 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 students each answered questions about discrimination and mistreatment as part of an Association of American Medical Colleges survey of second-year medical students. Information about attrition during or after the second year of medical school is based on data from the AAMC Student Records System, obtained in September 2020. 

For the purposes of the study, mistreatment included "being publicly humiliated, physically harmed, or threatened with physical harm," and discrimination included "being denied opportunities, receiving lower grades or evaluations, or experiencing offensive remarks based on their gender or racial and ethnic identity."

Researchers found that 5.6 percent of survey respondents reported isolated mistreatment, meaning one experience of mistreatment, and 2.3 percent reported recurrent mistreatment. Additionally, 7.5 percent and 8.7 percent of respondents reported isolated and recurrent discrimination, respectively, according to the study.

Among students who reported no mistreatment, the attrition rate was 1.2 percent. Among students who reported isolated or recurrent mistreatment, the attrition rates were 2.8 percent and 4.1 percent, respectively.

The rate of attrition among students who reported recurrent discrimination was 1.9 percent compared to 1.5 percent among those who reported isolated discrimination and 1.3 percent among those who reported no discrimination.

The authors noted their study may not account for some factors influencing attrition, including socioeconomic hardships. 

To learn more about the study, click here

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