To consider dear to me, as my parents, him who taught me this art; to live in common with him and, if necessary, to share my goods with him; To look upon his children as my own brothers, to teach them this art. – Hippocratic Oath
I come from a family with physicians in it. If I randomly sample my class, I’m sure at least 30-40% of my peers have family members who are medical doctors, whether they be parents, brothers, sisters, uncles, cousins. It’s a common finding all across the country.
Medical students tend to come from families with doctors in it.
The reason for this is probably because children of physicians are more likely to get an exposure into the medical field. Their parents probably encourage their kids to consider this profession. When they do decide to apply to medical school, they are told what all the right things to do are to bolster their application. As a result, a large portion of medical classes are made up of students in upper-middle class.
There’s nothing wrong with a kid wanting to be a doctor like mom or dad. What’s concerning is that there is an over representation of students from better-off families and an under representation of students from lower socioeconomic classes. When graduation rolls around, doctors will be less likely to go to under served communities and help those who have the least access to health care.
It’s a moral dilemma that I have thought about often. I wonder if it would have been better if my spot was given to someone from a rural community, a lower socioeconomic class, an aboriginal reserve? We try to fix this problem by giving preferential treatment (or affirmative action) to those we want to attract in the admissions process. In theory it should help, in reality I wonder if it makes a difference.
Is there a good solution to making medical schools more diverse to include more than just upper-middle class students from privileged families?