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Diversity in leadership roles essential to engage minority-ethnic medical students with academia

Minority-ethnic medical students must have more role-models in senior leadership positions if they are to engage with academia. This is one of the conclusions drawn by a group of medical students writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine about the drivers and barriers to engaging with academia.

Barriers currently hampering the chances of minority-ethnic medical students accessing formal pathways into academia, they write, include differential attainment and unconscious bias, difficulties forming meaningful mentor-mentee relationships, as well as the lack of role models from minority-ethnic backgrounds.

Drawing on their own experiences, the medical students write that while progress has been made to increase the number of academics from minority ethnic backgrounds, the same progress has not been made celebrating them as people or their contributions to science, especially given the inspirational impact individuals such as Mary Seacole or Charles Richard Drew have had on future generations of students.

Co-author Carlos Curtis-Lopez, of the University of Manchester medical school, said: “Nationally, major research funders and policymakers could start by making a real statement of intent addressing this problem. They should also ensure a proportion of those in senior leadership positions reflect the entire population that they serve and that there is diverse representation across committees, selection and award panels.”

He added: “By having medical students from minority-ethnic backgrounds see something of themselves among those in senior leadership roles, it could be enough of a nudge to push them into having a conversation with academics in their institutions about pursuing a career in academia.”

Senior author Dr Rakesh Patel, Clinical Associate Professor in Medical Education at the University of Nottingham, said: “Given diversity of thinking and representation are associated with greater scientific impact and growth, not having minority-ethnic students consider academia is a lost opportunity for all.”

Notes to editors

Drivers and barriers to engaging with academia: a minority-ethnic medical student perspective (DOI: 10.1177/01410768211029156) by Carlos Curtis-Lopez, Daniel Robinson, Manasi Shirke, Catherine Dominic and Rakesh Patel will be published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine at 00:05 hrs (UK time) on Friday 2 July 2021.

The link for the full text of the paper is:

For further information, or a copy of the paper, please contact:

Rosalind Dewar
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The Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine (JRSM) is a leading voice in the UK and internationally for medicine and healthcare. Published continuously since 1809, JRSM features scholarly comment and clinical research. JRSM is editorially independent from the Royal Society of Medicine, and its editor is Dr Kamran Abbasi.

JRSM is a journal of the Royal Society of Medicine and it is published by SAGE Publishing.

Sara Miller McCune founded SAGE Publishing in 1965 to support the dissemination of usable knowledge and educate a global community. SAGE is a leading international provider of innovative, high-quality content publishing more than 1000 journals and over 800 new books each year, spanning a wide range of subject areas. A growing selection of library products includes archives, data, case studies and video. SAGE remains majority owned by our founder and after her lifetime will become owned by a charitable trust that secures the company’s continued independence. Principal offices are located in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC and Melbourne.

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