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I Have a Dream

Kendra_new_headshotKendra Campbell -- Going to a medical school in the Caribbean has some drawbacks, but it definitely has its benefits. Rather than launching into a laundry list of positives and negatives, I’m going to focus on something that I recently noticed: My school has an incredibly diverse student population. Since I was immersed in the environment on an isolated island, I never fully appreciated just how diverse it was. U.S. schools also have students from diverse backgrounds, experiences, education levels, and ages. But the profound difference at my school was the variety of ethnicities I saw on campus.

I’m currently nearing the end of my first clinical rotation in the States, and I made quite an interesting observation a few days ago. During a lecture, I finally got to meet medical students from other medical schools. Several local universities send students to the hospital where I’m rotating. I was surprised to find out that they were quite similar to the students from my own university. However, there was one profound difference: they were all white.

Of course I know that these students represented only a small sample of med students from U.S. universities, but the difference was nonetheless quite fascinating. At the table sat students from both Caribbean and U.S. medical schools, and the Caribbean students were quite a bit more diverse.

I’m not the first person to make this observation. I won’t go into the statistics, but I know that U.S. medical schools have a much smaller percentage of minority students than do Caribbean schools. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) has been aware of the less-than-optimal percentage of minority medical students for years. In fact, they have a program devoted to trying to increase the numbers of minorities in medicine.

There are many reasons why Caribbean medical schools attract and accept more minority students, but one of the obvious reasons is that they have different acceptance standards. Caribbean schools are more likely to accept a student with a lower MCAT score or GPA. Because of many reasons that I won’t go into here, certain minority groups don’t have access to the same educational resources as do other students, and sometimes this means that their scores might be lower. This issue is obviously very touchy and much more complicated than I can elucidate in a short blog entry, but the difference does in fact exist. The numbers don’t lie.

I’ve written before about the need to create a diverse physician workforce. It’s something that I adamantly believe in. I just can’t accept that certain barriers exist, which prevent the enrichment of the field of medicine with a more heterogeneous group of folks.

Please excuse me for using this tawdry metaphor, but I have a dream that some day I will be sitting again at a table with my fellow colleagues, and I’ll enjoy the presence of a more diverse group of individuals: diverse in body, spirit, and mind.

July 21, 2008 in Kendra Campbell | Permalink


Thank you for raising such a sensitive issue Kendra. It appears to be the norm in some of our best programs across the country that minorities have been overwhelmingly unrepresented and conspiciously relegated.

I decided to read your blog because of the insinuation of its title. What is the dream? Is it the pursuit of happiness? How can we achieve contentment without being recognized and fairly compensated for a role in such a diverse country?

The answers to these questions might seem obvious but impractical in an uncorporative society with a dominant classification. Perhaps we should stop making the stereotypical calls and embrace a homogenous perspective with respect to our beliefs of the entire population.

I think what we need is a creed made possible through realistically encouraging our minorities for the sake of being human. We should not be obscured by skin color thereby making prejudgements and ironic prophetetic statements.

Therefore, I urge everyone to become blind to the 'whos' and start focusing on the 'whats'. As you suggested, this is one of those mysterious issues that when initiated can raise a whole can of worms. However, it is worth addressing. Hopefully, one day we will see progressive changes in the nature of human perspectives in our communities. Share your strengths!

Posted by: Edward | Jul 29, 2008 3:17:13 AM

kendra, i heart you and your blog. i love how you take an HONEST look at both the numbers and the phenomenon. another one is groups who are overrepresented in medicine. you don't think it odd that in the carib schools you have entire families of doctors? where else in the world is there a "doctor or bust" attitude seen like there is in the caribbean?

i'm not proposing regulation or anything like that, but i wonder if the same [type of] attitude is causing some students to not have a chance in the conventional med school setting. you know the "i'm going to med school more because i can get in than because i really want to"

i know it's doubtful you even read these comments, especially now, but i just wanted to throw that out there. diversity means more than just having lots of indians....

Posted by: Madinat | Aug 10, 2008 12:36:26 AM

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Posted by: Medical Schools Sacramento | Nov 19, 2009 2:08:26 AM

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