Ethnic Differences Seen in Academic Measures for U.K. Docs

Gap exists in academic performance of white versus nonwhite medical students and doctors

WEDNESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- United Kingdom-trained physicians and medical students with ethnic minority backgrounds tend to underperform academically compared to their white peers, according to a meta-analysis published online March 8 in BMJ.

Katherine Woolf, Ph.D., of University College London, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of 23 reports comparing the academic performance of medical students and doctors from different ethnicities. The studies measured the academic performance of 23,742 medical students and U.K.-trained doctors of different ethnicities in undergraduate or postgraduate assessments.

The researchers found that candidates with ethnic minority backgrounds significantly underperformed academically, compared to their white counterparts. This effect was consistent in sub-analyses, each of which focused on only one factor: undergraduate assessments, postgraduate assessments, machine-marked written assessments, practical clinical assessments, assessments with pass/fail outcomes, assessments with continuous outcomes, and in a meta-analysis of white versus Asian candidates.

"Ethnic differences in academic performance are widespread across different medical schools, different types of exam, and in undergraduates and postgraduates. They have persisted for many years and cannot be dismissed as atypical or local problems. We need to recognize this as an issue that probably affects all of U.K. medical and higher education," the authors write.

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