Black Students’ Perception of Belonging: A Focus Group Approach with Black Students at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

Authors

  • Monnique Johnson 2d Lt Monnique Johnson, USAF, MSC, Class of 2023, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6746-4270
  • Witzard Seide CDR Witzard Seide, MD, USPHS, Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States
  • Althea Green-Dixon PhD, CSM, USA (ret), Director of Recruitment, Assistant Professor of Military Medicine, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States
  • Virginia Randall MD MPH, COL, MC, USA (ret), Associate Professor of Pediatrics, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, United States https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2944-9015

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.877

Keywords:

Medical students, Qualitative Research, Minority Groups, Social Perception, Undergraduate medical education, Medical education

Abstract

Background: Finding that enrollment of Underrepresented in Medicine students at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences was considerably below the national average, researchers sought to understand the experiences of minority students. The goal is to develop an academic and social support structure that sustains and attracts students of diverse backgrounds and races.

Methods: Individual interviews of eight matriculated Black medical students and a focus group were conducted, with Institutional Review Board approval, to obtain feasible methodologies and implement change. Student's perspectives and experiences regarding their institution were investigated using qualitative thematic analysis.

Results: The analysis revealed six themes from the individual interviews: Experience as a minority; Admission process; Difference in backgrounds; Curriculum culture; Diversity at the school; Military medicine. The overarching message from the students was “If you don’t see yourself represented somewhere, it’s hard to believe that you belong.” The focus group made four recommendations: Add a minority viewpoint to curriculum; Add textbooks that portray black skin; Collaborate with Historically Black Colleges and Universities; Increase recruitment of Black students and faculty.

Conclusion: It is hard for minority students to believe they belong in environments without the representation and infrastructure needed to support their unique needs. Implementing ideas, such as those described in this report, is an important step towards creating inclusion and equity.

References

Association of American Medical Colleges. Underrepresented in medicine definition. Available from: https://www.aamc.org/what-we-do/diversity-inclusion/underrepresented-in-medicine. Last updated March 19, 2004; cited Nov 3, 2020.

Association of American Medical Colleges. Total U.S. Medical School Enrollment. https://www.aamc.org/system/files/2020-11/2020_FACTS_Table_B-3.pdf. Last updated November 3, 2020; cited Nov 3, 2020.

Orom H, Semalulu T, Underwood III W. The social and learning environments experienced by underrepresented minority medical students: a narrative review. Acad Med. 2013 Nov;88(11):1765-77.

Strayhorn G, Frierson H. Assessing correlations between black and white students' perceptions of the medical school learning environment, their academic performances, and their well-being. Acad Med. 1989 Aug;64(8):468-73.

Frierson Jr HT. Black medical students' perceptions of the academic environment and of faculty and peer interactions. J Natl Med Assoc. 1987 Jul;79(7):737.

Calkins E, Arnold L, Willoughby TL. Medical students' perceptions of stress: gender and ethnic considerations. Acad Med. 1994 Oct;69(10);Suppl 22-4.

Tatum BD. "Why Are All the Black Kids Still Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" and Other Conversations about Race in the Twenty-First Century." Liberal Education. 2017;103:n3-4.

Hadinger MA. Underrepresented minorities in medical school admissions: a qualitative study. Teach Learn Med. 2017 Jan-Mar;29(1):31-41.

Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qual Res Psychol. 2006;3(2):77-101.

Cleland JA. The qualitative orientation in medical education research. Korean J Med Educ. 2017 Jun;29(2):61.

Parkman A. The imposter phenomenon in higher education: Incidence and impact. J Higher Educ. 2016;16(1):51.

Osseo-Asare A, Balasuriya L, Huot SJ, Keene D, Berg D, Nunez-Smith M et al. Minority resident physicians’ views on the role of race/ethnicity in their training experiences in the workplace. JAMA Netw. 2018 Sep 7;1(5):e182723-e182723.

Roberts LW. Belonging, respectful inclusion, and diversity in medical education. Acad Med. 2020 May;95(5):661-4.

Thomas B, Booth-McCoy AN. Blackface, implicit bias, and the informal curriculum: shaping the healthcare workforce, and improving health. J Natl Med Assoc. 2020 Oct;112(5):533-40.

Acosta D, Ackerman-Barger K. Breaking the silence: time to talk about race and racism. Acad Med. 2017 Mar;92(3):285-8.

Walters FP, Anyane-Yeboa A, Landry AM. The not-so-silent killer missing in medical-training curricula: racism. Nat Med. 2020 Aug;26(8):1160-1.

Vick AD, Baugh A, Lambert J, Vanderbilt AA, Ingram E, Garcia R, et al. Levers of change: a review of contemporary interventions to enhance diversity in medical schools in the USA. Adv Med Educ Pract.2018 Jan;9:53.

Garces LM, Jayakumar UM. Dynamic diversity: Toward a contextual understanding of critical mass. Educ Res. 2014;43(3):115-24.

Smitherman HC, Aranha AN, Dignan A, Morrison M, Ayers E, Robinson L. Impact of a 50-Year Premedical Postbaccalaureate Program in Graduating Physicians for Practice in Primary Care and Underserved Areas. Acad Med. 2021 Mar 1;96(3): 416-24.

Metz AM. Medical school outcomes, primary care specialty choice, and practice in medically underserved areas by physician alumni of MEDPREP, a postbaccalaureate premedical program for underrepresented and disadvantaged students. Teach Learn Med. 2017 Jul-Sep;29(3):351-9.

Haggins A, Sandhu G, Ross PT. Value of near-peer mentorship from protégé and mentor perspectives: a strategy to increase physician workforce diversity. J Natl Medl Assoc. 2018 Aug;110(4):399-406.

Afghani B, Santos R, Angulo M, Muratori W. A novel enrichment program using cascading mentorship to increase diversity in the health care professions. Acad Med. 2013 Sep;88(9):1232-8.

Quaye SJ, Shaw MD, Hill DC. Blending scholar and activist identities: Establishing the need for scholar activism. J Divers High Educ. 2017;10(4):381.

Rodríguez JE, Campbell KM, Pololi LH. Addressing disparities in academic medicine: what of the minority tax? BMC Med Educ. 2015 Feb 1;15(1):1-5.

Published

2021-05-18

How to Cite

Johnson, M., Seide, W. ., Green-Dixon, A., & Randall, V. (2021). Black Students’ Perception of Belonging: A Focus Group Approach with Black Students at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. International Journal of Medical Students, 9(2), 124–128. https://doi.org/10.5195/ijms.2021.877

Issue

Section

Original Article