A Note of Caution from a Medical School Applicant

We recently received this message from a prospective medical school applicant. We are keeping the applicant’s identity anonymous.

I just wrapped up my primary AMCAS and a handful of secondary medical school applications. I decided to “fight back” by not including my racial identity in my primary application. This fight was short-lived because many of the secondary applications REQUIRED my race and ethnicity to be included. 

My question is simple: “Why?” 

Many may criticize my decision; after all, they will see me if an interview is extended, so why not just be like the rest and include it? This criticism fails to include the fact that my background may be no different than the applicants who would be considered diverse and, on paper, I may not be able to show that.

Prior to applying to medical school, I grew up in a very diverse community. I had white, black, Asian, and Hispanic friends alike. I never referred to any one of them as my *insert race* friend; they were all just my friends. I do not consider my ancestors privileged, as many were unskilled laborers and some suffered from broken homes. Yes, some races had different and even potentially more extreme hardships, but does that nullify the hardships my family faced?

I recognize prejudice exists, but is the answer to filter out applicants based on skin color? If you say this is not happening, then why is the question of my race even necessary? Why can’t we hold a completely anonymous application system where you didn’t see my skin color until I was accepted? Sadly, these questions cannot be asked. 

Having undergone multiple surgeries in my life, I never once thought, “I hope my surgeon is diverse.” Rather, I prayed the doctor would be qualified to get me in and out of surgery without any adverse events. As a future physician, I commit to striving for the highest quality of treatment within my scope to all my patients, regardless of skin color. I hope we can pay that same commitment to the physicians of the future.