Last month we were invited to attend an excellent event organised by the Norwich Medical School, on the topic of differential attainment and experiences of black, Asian, and minority ethnic students (BAME) within the field of Medicine.
The event explored the significant differences in the average marks awarded to BAME students in both written and clinical trials, compared with their white counterparts. This effect, known as differential attainment, is well-evidenced both at UEA and nationally. For example, in 2017, data from the General Medical Council demonstrated that the pass rate in postgraduate exams was 75% among white students and 63% among UK BME students. There is no evidence that differential attainment is linked to BAME students themselves, but that bias in the learning environment is the biggest contributor.
We heard compelling accounts from UEA BAME Medical students about the race-based microaggressions and racism that they have endured on their journeys to becoming qualified medics. One student described how they had been told that they ‘don’t look like’ they should be studying medicine, and many described the racist remarks they had received from both hospital staff and patients while on placement. Students also highlighted that the curriculum requires an overhaul to remove stereotypes, citing examples where case studies repeatedly attribute particular medical conditions only to people of colour, or exclude relevant content altogether, such as how to diagnose eczema on darker skin.
It was encouraging to hear from UEA’s Vice-Chancellor at the event, who expressed his commitment to addressing these issues, and his acknowledgement that this systemic problem is not unique to UEA, but also requires national action.
Norwich Medical School has demonstrated a firm commitment to tackling this issue. A new working group of staff and students will be implementing a series of interventions, including addressing the gaps in the curriculum, mentoring and support for students of colour, training for staff and students around race and racism, and bystander programmes.
We at uea(su) will be supporting the School in their efforts, as part of our wider 'Decolonise UEA' campaign, and look forward to working with Medical students and staff to push this work forward. We believe Norwich Medical School’s commitment of resource and taking a long-term, holistic view is an example of what is needed in every school at UEA, and we will encourage all other schools to take a similarly thorough approach.
We look forward to further working with the Norwich Medical School, UEA and – of course - our amazing students.
Your Full-Time Officer Team 19/20,
Martin Marko, Postgraduate Education Officer
Callum Perry, Undergraduate Education Officer
Sophie Atherton, Campaigns & Democracy Officer
Ali Perez-Lopez, Activities & Opportunities Officer
Amelia Trew, Welfare, Community & Diversity Officer