Reducing Reliance on Test Scores Reduces Racial Bias in Neurology Residency Recruitment.
PURPOSE: We sought to correct a low interview rate for racial groups underrepresented in medicine (URM) by analyzing our interview selection process, identifying sources of unintended bias, and developing a new process that would provide a more racially diverse interview pool. METHODS: We analyzed our review process to determine at which point we were eliminating URM candidates at a higher rate than those who are not from an underrepresented group. A point system was created incorporating clinical grades, extracurricular activities, research, letters of recommendation, board exam scores, and life experiences. We compared the rate at which interviews were offered to URM candidates and compared those rates to historical data. We then analyzed the new process by comparing groups who were offered interviews to those who were not. RESULTS: In 2016, 56% of URM applicants were screened out by a mandatory minimum United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) test score, whereas only 39% of all other groups were disqualified by test scores. This led to 20% of the URM applicants receiving interview offers. By comparison, 30.6% of other groups were offered interviews. After removing the required minimum test score for application review and modifying the screening process to a more holistic one the following application cycle, 24.5% of URMs were offered interviews in 2017 compared to 28.1% of others. CONCLUSIONS: A comprehensive review of applications that minimizes emphasis on USMLE step 1 scores substantially reduced the difference between the percentages of URMs and those of other racial backgrounds who were offered interviews for a Neurology residency.
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