Men more likely to reapply to medical schools, study finds
■ Hispanics and blacks were more likely to reapply than whites, and being older than 23 decreased the chances of trying again.
By Carolyne Krupa — Posted March 21, 2012
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Tough competition means that many prospective medical students aren’t accepted the first time they apply to medical school, but several factors affect whether an individual decides to apply a second time. Among them are age, gender, educational debts, scores on the Medical College Admissions Test, socioeconomic status and other career opportunities, says an Academic Medicine study published online Feb. 22.
To help medical school admissions officials and pre-health advisers better understand applicants’ motivations, Assn. of American Medical Colleges researchers analyzed data on 3,326 people who reapplied to medical school in 2010 after being rejected as first-time applicants in 2009.
“The study was prompted by a broader goal of better understanding factors that might be associated with a medical school aspirant transitioning to an applicant,” said Douglas Grbic, PhD, lead study author and AAMC senior research analyst.
Fifty-three percent of 38,402 U.S. citizens or permanent residents who applied to medical school in 2009 were rejected, including 14,389 first-time applicants. But 2,121 of those first-time applicants were accepted when they reapplied in 2010, the study said (link).
Researchers found that women were less likely than men to reapply after being rejected by a medical school, while Hispanics and blacks were more likely to reapply than whites. Being older than 23 also reduced one’s chances of applying a second time.
The less debt people had, the more likely they were to reapply, the study said. Nearly 40% of those who reapplied to medical school in 2010 said they had no debt, while 27% had debt of $20,000 or more.
“The results for debt are important,” Grbic said. “Large amounts of debt appear to turn potential repeat applicants away from reapplying. As noted in the paper, this suggests that potential first-time applicants with larger amounts of educational debt are also being turned away from applying to medical school.”
Higher scores on the MCAT were linked with a greater likelihood of reapplying. Those with a score of 33 or greater were five times more likely to reapply than those with a score of 23 or below.
Another factor was an individual’s alternative plans if rejected by a medical school. Those who said in 2009 that they would reapply to medical school if not accepted were nearly twice as likely to reapply in 2010. But 2009 applicants who said they would consider another kind of medical training or health profession, or pursue a graduate degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics if not accepted, were less likely to reapply to medical school the following year, the study said.
Some differences in choices by gender showed that men who said in 2009 that they would consider pursuing a law or business degree were less likely to reapply to medical school in 2010. Women who said they might opt for a business or law degree were more likely to reapply to medical school the following year.
Also, women with higher socioeconomic status were more likely to reapply compared with other women, but the opposite was true for men.
“We speculate this may be explained by the differential influence that mothers with higher levels of education have on their daughters’ versus their sons’ careers and educational aspirations,” the study said.