I have been asked, “Why is diversity even a subject of discussion for the inclusion criteria of medical school at all?”
So, I’ve decided to take some time to write an article (or two) about diversity in the AMCAS/AAMC process, and speculate as to why diversity is an important selection factor. The assumed priori against the inclusion of financial diversity as an selection factor is that all applicants have equal access and opportunity; in other words in a perfect world it’s challenge of brain versus brain and we all start off on equal footing.
1) Parental income is positively correlated with applicant MCAT average scores in both the AMCAS and TMCAS (not shown, you can find the trend here), the more income the higher the score is the trend.
We see a rather straight forward trend with the data from the AAMC, the more well off the applicants’ parents the more on average you could expect their MCAT score to be. Of course, this doesn’t mean well off in the EO-5 will score higher nor does it mean their parents will be all that supportive either. The vice versa is also true, you can be in the EO-1 and still destroy the MCAT — it’s just that either way would “buck” the trend projected here. Long story short, the more money your parents have the more likely you are to have a higher average score — we should also note that the applicants with very elite parents (EO-5)enjoyed a comfortable average around the accepted MCAT score level (around 31 in 2012).
2. Graphing the application year versus average GPA scores we see a subtle creep in grades. Overall, applicants and matriculants have higher GPAs every year; assuming individual effort is equitable, there’s a trend of the more affluent (SES D) achieving higher GPAs versus their poorer friends (SES A).
Interestingly, there is also a slight but definite change upward movement in both the applicants and accepted over a 10 year period. While there are likely other factors (such as re-applicants), we can then start to wonder is everyone getting smarter or is the application pool just trending more towards the EO-5 group. We can only wonder what the new MCAT will do to scores.
3) There is a trend that accepted students are growing part of the upper class (US census data):
The AAMC states that the median income for applicants’ parents was $57,000 in 1987, it is now $100,000 — even with inflation, this is a remarkable growth. As we can see from the image furnished by AAMC, there hasn’t the bottom financial quintile of applicants has barely increased at all, whereas the top quintile are pouring into acceptance bliss. This can be reflected by merely looking at the next figure, this figure demonstrates the national average of the make up of applicants’ financial standing:
From the graph above we can see that there really isn’t all that much “financial diversity” in the economic standing in the make up of the average medical school class. Around 50% of the class is expected to be at least in the highest quintile. around 10-15+% in the fourth quintile, ~10-15% for the second quintile, and 2-5% in the lowest quintile. Though, not shown here, it should be noted that many colleges also trended towards similar break downs in parental income. Therefore it’s not as if medical schools are trying to build their ranks with wealthier applicants, it’s just happens that survivors from the premed hunger games are the more wealthy.
So, for what it is, the data suggests that parental income is positively correlated with applicant MCAT average scores in both the AMCAS and TMCAS (see link), the more income the higher the score is the trend. There is some reports not discussed here that finances are positively correlated with successful completion of college degrees in the US. There is evidence that there is a difference between applicants when it comes to finances and it’s effects, therefore it’s warranted that socioeconomic standing is indeed an area worth it to diversify in if physicians are truly one day to mirror the cut of society they serve; because at this time there isn’t all that much diversity in income and it’s getting worse.
It would be inappropriate to assume that money buys success or hard work. I can guarantee you everyone in medical school worked for it, but this story isn’t medical students it’s about the applicant pool. Instead,
Part 2: the effect of SES status, diversity and GPAs