Modern medical schools are looking for students with various backgrounds and experiences. This diversity in medical school admissions is a big issue for several reasons.
The first reason is that medical schools like to see diversity in the students they are admitting. While diversity includes such issues as race and ethnicity, it is viewed in a much broader context by medical schools. They are looking for diversity in all of its forms. A few examples include:
geographic diversity, what state are you from and are you from an urban or rural area:
academic diversity, what college did you attend and what major did you have;
diversity of experiences, what activities were you involved in during college and during your gap year, if you had one; and
economic diversity, have you experienced issues commonly associated with poverty such as homelessness and a lack of reliable meals.
Medical schools, like most colleges, do not want all of their students to look the same and think the same. To the extent possible they want their students to reflect the US population in all it varieties.
The second reason medical schools are interested in diversity is because they understand that the patients that physicians will be treating come from a broad range of backgrounds. They want to make sure that the students they are admitting understand and embrace this patient diversity.
We see this concept of diversity tested in the essays that are a common aspect of many secondary medical school applications. These essays will usually ask about the types of diverse populations the student has dealt with in the past and what they have learned from this contact. This is one of the reasons that it is important for applicants to medical school to have a background of dealing with underserved populations.
The diversity we are talking about isn’t meant to favor one group over another but rather to make sure that people of all backgrounds are fairly treated in the medical school admissions process.