Doctors from ethnic minority groups underperform in exams

UK-trained doctors and medical students from ethnic minority groups underperform academically compared with their white counterparts, a study suggests.

Research published in the BMJ found that ethnic differences in attainment were a 'consistent feature’ of medical education in the UK and had existed for at least 30 years.

The study suggested the differences in attainment are unlikely to be caused primarily by examiner bias and verbal community skills, but said these could be factors. The researchers said the fact that exam result vary by ethnicity is ‘extremely important’ and requires attention.

'While exam performance is by no means the only marker of good performance as a doctor or medical student, the fact remains that without passing finals, medical students cannot become doctors, and without passing postgraduate exams, it is much harder for doctors to progress in a medical career.'

The researchers called for more detailed information to track the problem as well as further research into its causes. ‘Without these actions, it will be a struggle to ensure a fair and just method of training and assessing our future and current doctors,’ they said.

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