Medical schools ‘committed to social accountability’
|Montreal Gazette 04 May 2014 at 21:31|
MONTREAL — The increasing diversity of McGill University’s medical class may have some worried, but it reflects a trend across North America, and a concerted effort on the part of medical school administrators to ensure students of all ethnic, socioeconomic and linguistic backgrounds have the opportunity to become doctors.
“One of our biggest roles is determining who will enter our profession and serve our Canadian population,” said GeneviÃÂ¨ve Moineau, president and CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC). “And our faculties of medicine are very committed to social accountability. Some schools are uniquely focused on marks, but we want people who can serve some underserved populations.”
In fact, the AFMC’s conference last weekend was focused on admissions best practices and how to foster diversity, particularly in view of the fact Canada will be establishing its own accreditation standards for medical schools. That should be approved this summer and would mean universities would have to uphold the new standards by spring 2016.
Until now, accreditation was set by U.S. standards, but Moineau said the idea of having a uniquely Canadian set of standards has been percolating for a long time.
No one is advocating using quotas, she said, and surveys about applicant demographics are completely anonymous.
“But we need to understand who is applying and see where we’re going wrong from a diversity point of view,” she said.
Jesse Kancir, president of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, said students are on board with increasing diversity, particularly socioeconomic diversity.
“As long as we’re ensuring that by the time people get into the pool they’re competent, then I think the onus is on medical schools to be training physicians to serve the population,” he said in an interview. “Perhaps you can’t put in filters when trying to select candidates, but you have to ensure that pool of candidates is wide enough to begin with.”
He said with only about eight per cent of applicants getting into medical school, it’s not a question of lowering standards to increase diversity.
“The pool of candidates is there and that pool is going to be competent and competitive,” he said.