All We Can Be: Innovations to Improve the Pipeline of Military Veterans in Medical Schools

Christopher P. Bellaire, Thomas B. Fetherston, Jacquelyn Chudow, Jessica Maysonet, Jacob M. Appel, Valerie Parkas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Issue: Medical schools are increasingly identifying military veteran applicants as a source of diversity, resiliency, and commitment—often derived from their personal experiences in the military. Yet, veterans remain significantly under-represented in entering classes; moreover, those veterans who do matriculate are not yet fully reflective of the diversity that the Armed Forces have to offer. Fortunately, specific measures have been shown to be effective at increasing both the number and diversity of student veterans in medical school. Evidence: In 2019, there were less than 60 military veterans who entered the 144 civilian medical schools in the United States, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. We identify common barriers faced by military veterans and propose best practices for medical schools to recruit and sustain them. We draw on the existing medical education literature about veteran support systems, and we underscore the unique challenges of veterans in medicine. Finally, we highlight innovative programs currently in place at several US medical schools that seek to address the needs of student veterans. This article provides a guide for how to recruit, assess, and nurture student veterans, suggesting a new way of thinking about this population of nontraditional medical students. Implications: This dearth of servicemembers significantly below what would be expected based on national demographic data is indicative of how medical schools offer few pathways to entry for military servicemembers—and far fewer for enlisted personnel and other populations traditionally under-represented in medicine. Should schools aim to recruit a veteran population that is truly representative of the military, additional measures need to be taken into consideration during the admissions review process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-112
Number of pages8
JournalTeaching and Learning in Medicine
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Military veterans
  • diversity
  • medical school
  • school admission criteria
  • socioeconomic factors

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