Facilitating admissions of diverse students: A six-point, evidence-informed framework for pipeline and program development

Perspect Med Educ. 2017 Apr;6(2):82-90. doi: 10.1007/s40037-017-0341-5.


Introduction: Several national level calls have encouraged reconsideration of diversity issues in medical education. Particular interest has been placed on admissions, as decisions made here shape the nature of the future physician workforce. Critical analysis of current practices paired with evidence-informed policies may counter some of the barriers impeding access for underrepresented groups.

Methods: We present a framework for diversity-related program development and evaluation grounded within a knowledge translation framework, and supported by the initiation of longitudinal collection of diversity-related data. We provide an illustrative case study for each component of the framework. Descriptive analyses are presented of pre/post intervention diversity metrics if applicable and available.

Results: The framework's focal points are: 1) data-driven identification of underrepresented groups, 2) pipeline development and targeted recruitment, 3) ensuring an inclusive process, 4) ensuring inclusive assessment, 5) ensuring inclusive selection, and 6) iterative use of diversity-related data. Case studies ranged from wording changes on admissions websites to the establishment of educational and administrative offices addressing needs of underrepresented populations.

Conclusions: We propose that diversity-related data must be collected on a variety of markers, developed in partnership with stakeholders who are most likely to facilitate implementation of best practices and new policies. These data can facilitate the design, implementation, and evaluation of evidence-informed diversity initiatives and provide a structure for continued investigation into 'interventions' supporting diversity-related initiatives.

Keywords: Admissions; Diversity; Knowledge translation; Medical education.