Faculty of Medicine launches new admissions pathway for Black medical students

The new Black Student MD Admissions Pathway will help address the underrepresentation of Black physicians in British Columbia (B.C.)

“The goal of the pathway is to remove barriers that hinder the professional and academic success of Black students, creating a community within and beyond UBC where Black MD students can see representation that reflects them within higher medical education and the healthcare system,” says Donneil McNab, the Faculty of Medicine Black Student Initiatives Manager.

In this newly created role, McNab hopes to inspire and encourage more Black students to study medicine in B.C., while also supporting them throughout their academic careers.

“The program will provide holistic and multifaceted support for students, and include touchpoints before, during and after their time with us at UBC,” she says. “It will be an honour to have that level of involvement in the student life cycle of Black MD students and the chance to create positive change for students.”

“Graduating more Black physicians is absolutely pivotal as we strive to eliminate racism and discrimination in the healthcare system, and make health care more responsive to the needs and experiences of Black people and other underrepresented communities while improving health outcomes for all British Columbians,” says Dr. Roger Wong, Vice-Dean, Education.

The new pathway reflects the Faculty of Medicine’s contract with society and commitment to educating, developing and mentoring diverse future health care practitioners — as outlined in its Building the Future: 2021-2026 Strategic Plan. The pathway also aligns with the recommendations within the UBC President’s Task Force on Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence report.

“This pathway is the foundational step that the Faculty of Medicine is taking to help increase the representation of Black students within the MD program,” says Dr. Wong. “We recognize that this is just the beginning and more needs to be done, such as increasing the recruitment of Black mentors and role models. The Faculty remains committed to working collaboratively with various stakeholders to achieve this.”

Created in collaboration with various stakeholders in Black medical education across Canada, the pathway also draws on the successes of, and lessons from, the Faculty of Medicine’s Indigenous MD Admissions Pathway.

James Andrew

“Thanks to our reputation for recruiting and supporting Indigenous medical students, applications and admissions have increased fivefold over the past two decades,” says James Andrew, Faculty of Medicine Indigenous Student Initiatives Manager.

The Faculty of Medicine envisions similar outcomes for the Black Student MD Admissions Pathway while recognizing that the urgent work of anti-racism and meaningful, system-wide change requires engaged, long-term support from UBC, government and health institutions across the province.

Dr. Shahin Shirzad

“To effect change of this magnitude, we need to support Black leadership and expertise at all levels of the health care system,” says Dr. Shahin Shirzad, Assistant Dean, Admissions, MD Undergraduate Program. “This begins with education: ensuring accessibility to medical education for our Black community and providing an environment with opportunities and resources so all students can realize their potential.”

To this end, the Faculty of Medicine is committed to creating mentorship and ambassadorial opportunities as well as increasing access to academic, financial and well-being services to ensure Black students and students from other underrepresented groups succeed and thrive.

“As someone who has experienced racial inequity in healthcare, I think [the pathway] is a potential game-changer,” McNab says. “The beauty of the Black Student MD Admissions pathway is that it will benefit all students as they will have more opportunities to learn from and with a more diverse group of peers, which only makes for more culturally aware physicians.”

For more information, visit the Black Student MD Admissions Pathway page on the MD Undergraduate Program website.