Nonminority medical students more satisfied than minority students, study finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Minorities account for 30 percent of the U.S. population, but only 8 percent of the physician workforce, and experience less personal satisfaction during medical school than nonminority students, finds a Mayo Clinic study published in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

More than 1,000 students from three Minnesota medical schools were surveyed and minority students were found to have a lower sense of personal accomplishment and quality of life than their nonminority peers. They were more likely than nonminority students to have experienced a personal illness in the past year and to have children, both stressors that could impact their quality of life and sense of accomplishment.

The study's authors say improving well-being among minority medical students is key to promoting diversification in the physician work force. Further study is warranted to assess how to aid minority students during their education to prevent attrition, says Liselotte Dyrbye, M.D., the study's lead author.

"Further research exploring medical school experience of minority students is needed to help understand the barriers to development of a racially and ethnically diverse physician workforce," says Dr. Dyrbye. "Understanding these barriers will hopefully result in support programs and other interventions that will improve both the quality of life of physicians in training and maximize their learning."

Stress among medical students was the subject of a second article in November's Mayo Clinic Proceedings. This study concluded that a pass fail grading method produces less stress among medical school students than the traditional AF grading method, without affecting scores on standardized exams.

As a component of the study, the grading system for Mayo Medical School students was changed to pass-fail in 2006. Study authors note that these students experienced less stress and had greater group cohesion than studen

Contact: John Murphy
Mayo Clinic

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