Black Men in Medicine Matter: A Comparative Analysis of Factors Influencing Black Mens' Motivation to Apply to Medical School
Smith, John E.
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Background: The Association of American Medical Colleges reports that fewer Black men are applying and entering medical school now than there were forty years ago in 1978. It also projected that there will be a shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 physicians by 2025. The scarcity of Black physicians can make access to healthcare more challenging for low-income minorities and create a significant barrier in health-related issues among the Black population. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the strength of motivational factors that lead Black men to pursue a career in medicine by applying to medical school and compare them with the perceptions of other medical school students. The following research question was used in this study - What are the perceptions of Black male medical students versus the perceptions of other ethnicities and genders regarding their motivation to apply for medical school? Methods: Administrators from 112 medical schools throughout the United States were contacted to solicit their support in inviting students in their medical schools to participate in the study. Fifteen medical schools agreed to share the survey with their medical school students; this resulted in a total of 122 participants. An online survey, the Strength of Motivation for Medical Students (SMMS) questionnaire was used to measure three motivational factors – the willingness to sacrifice, readiness to start, and persistence. Five questions on demographic information and an open-ended question that focused on other factors that may have contributed to their decision to pursue medical school were added to the questionnaire to provide additional information. Results: Based on the analysis of the self-reported survey, Black Male medical students were significantly different from three other groups - White Male, Hispanic Female, and Asian Female. The MANOVA analysis showed that the Black Male students were more motivated than the White Male students in terms of “Willingness to Sacrifice” and “Readiness to Start.” Additionally, the Black Male students displayed more “Willingness to Sacrifice” than Hispanic Female students. Results also indicated that Black Male students demonstrated significantly more “Persistence” than Asian Female students. Based on varied replies, the responses to the open-ended question were separated into five categories of other influencing factors: 1) Family Support/Personal Health, 2) Lack Of/Need for More Doctors, 3) Job Security/Financial Stability, 4) Love of Medicine/Improving Community and 5) Mentors/Inspired by Someone in Medicine. The emerging theme from these responses suggests that Black Males are being influenced in numerous ways by different individuals. Conclusion: A collective effort from various organizations will be needed to increase the Black Male applicant pool for medical school. By implementing more initiatives for special programs and institutional partnerships, medical schools and other leaders in the healthcare industry can ultimately give more Black Males an opportunity to become physicians by applying to medical school.