View Full Version : Quotas for different races?
07-31-2001, 01:45 AM
Hi there. I am planning to apply to UBC this year. I was not born in Canada and moved from Hong Kong about 8 yrs ago as an immigrant.
I have heard various rumours that asian people whose English is not the first language has difficulty to get into Medicine, probably because they have a Quota about different races, is it true?
I am a male, and I have also heard that the female to male admission ratio is also more than 6:4, including this yr... I am so frustrated about these rumours because it all turns out to be my disadvantage...
Ian, do u happen to know how many medical students in each yr are asian people who don't speak english as first language? I think i can communicate well in the interview (if i happen to have one), but i just know whether the quota thing is true...
07-31-2001, 09:18 AM
Although I cannot say foresure, I highly doubt that there is a quota with respect to race or gender in medical school and in particular at UBC. This would totally go against university policy.
It is true that more females have been admitted in the past couple of years, however, this is likely just by chance. If it is more than a chance event (i.e. statistically significant, sorry for the statistical reference) then I would assume that females have been performing better than males in the past coulple of years on the interviews. I am sure that someone is not sitting in the adcom counting males/females and making sure that a certain 6:4 female/male ratio is obtained.
With respect to race, again, I am sure that noone is taking a quota of different races to let into medical school. UBC/Vancouver is very culturally diverse. I would assume that they will mark everyone who meets basic requirements on an even scale (at least I hope that they would). However, someone who is less fluent in english will likely have a more difficult time doing well on the essay and interview portion of the application (which are both very important parts of the app). In this sense, I guess there is a bias against those without as much experience writing/speaking english, and that it probably would be harder to be admitted for a person whose first language is not english.... However, it would seem to me that there is no other way to evaluate candidates. Hope this helps.
07-31-2001, 09:14 PM
There are a few people in my class who didn't have English as their first language. However, I think only one of them actually speaks with a really strong accent; he's Chinese.
I agre with HHH07 in that I don't believe there is a quota against Chinese students who learned English as a second language. Based on your transcripts and MCAT scores and such, I think it would be quite difficult to distinguish someone like that from a Canadian-born Chinese person such as myself.
More likely, I believe that ESL applicants weed themselves out of the application process. It would be quite rare for an ESL student to cover the four years of an undergraduate degree while maintaining the same marks as someone who spoke English as a native language. Reading speed and comprehension really make a big difference when it comes to surviving university, in my opinion.
The MCAT Verbal Reasoning and Written Samples would be other places where most ESL students would be expected to have a poorer performance. I have many friends who were born and raised in English, and still lack the reading speed to successfully complete the entire Verbal Reasoning section in time.
Finally, I think the interview is the place where a strong command of English can really make you or break you. The interview tends to include many subtle questions that are intended to really get inside your head, and reveal as much as possible about your personality and beliefs. I think it would be very difficult to explain the nuances and minutiae in sufficient detail if you didn't have a very strong grasp of English. At UBC, the interview is worth a large percentage of your application,so performing poorly here can really jeopardize your chances.
Is this fair?
I think it is, because upon entering medical school, you have a minimum of six years (if you enter family practice) where you will be taught in English, and be expected to read textbooks, do research, browse journal articles, and communicate with your fellow classmates and doctors in English. If you don't have those skills, you will find med school a very difficult place. You will also probably not do as well as someone who is a native English speaker.
With that said, there are a number of my classmates who have come with their parents to Canada, and had to learn English as children or even adolescents. One of my best friends in med school started learning English at age 12. He's 24 now, and I was shocked to discover that English wasn't his first language. He literally has a Canadian accent, although he is from Hong Kong.
So, getting into med school is hard. You knew that already. The difference is that getting into med school as an ESL student is even harder. You will need to spend extra time on your application materials to ensure that there aren't any subtle grammatical errors (I sincerely hope that your post isn't reflective of your usual writing style). But getting into med school is do-able, you just have to prove to the admissions committee that you would be a good student in the class, and a benefit to all your classmates.
UBC, Med 3
07-31-2001, 11:56 PM
There's no quota anywhere for people of certain races. But if your English isn't considerably flawless, you'll have a problem with essay-writing and your interviewer won't like you (one of the criteria in most Canadian schools is proficiency in English).
08-02-2001, 05:42 AM
My 2 cents for "immune":
1. There are indeed rumours about UBC imposing "quotas" on people in certain ethnic groups or gender entering medicine. Still, these are rumours, which means that they're difficult to verify (doesn't necessarily mean they're not true though).
2. I don't think that being an ESL student AUTOMATICALLY translates into: he / she will have a poor command of English, or he / she will only write bad essays, or he / she will do worse in interviews because he / she doesn't have a flawless Oxford accent. I'm from Hong Kong, and we started learning English since preschool. Of course it doesn't mean that every one of us can speak wonderful English, but those who enter "prestigious" schools in Hong Kong will definitely have a better command of English.
With all due respect, I just think that assuming ESL students can't speak English or write well, can't compete with Caucasians or second-generation immigrants, or can't succeed in university / medical school is naive and biased, or at least overgeneralized. There are always exceptions to every rule: Not every first-language speaker can speak / write English well; many ESL students can even speak / write better than first-language speakers. Many scholars and top students in UBC ARE second-language speakers, so it offends me a lot when I read ".....ESL applicants weed themselves out of the application process. It would be quite rare for an ESL student to cover the four years of an undergraduate degree while maintaining the same marks as someone who spoke English as a native language."
(Sorry, Ian, for this emotionally charged reply. I'm a first-generation immigrant and a second-language speaker, having lived in Canada for 6 years. Unlike your friend who has a flawless Canadian accent, I still have an accent speaking English. However, I just graduated from UBC maintaining a 90%+ average every year, and I just won an award for writing the best Honours thesis in my department, where most students are Caucasians. I'm not here to show off or anything, but just to illustrate a point: Being an ESL student doesn't automatically mean that he / she is not proficient in English. Of course I'm not denying how important one's command of English is to his / her academic life, but maybe there are many other factors in determining one's success besides a flawless accent and perfect grammar. Moreover, I think those who are capable enough to enter an undergrad program in any Canadian university are already used to being "taught in English.....expected to read textbooks, do research, browse journal articles, and communicate with your fellow classmates and doctors in English".)
3. Still, I have to agree with what Ian and the other authors said about entering medicine: it's hard, and it's true that you have to put extra effort on everything you do in order to make yourself stand out. Maybe it has nothing to do with ethnic / gender bias, but everything to do with the competitive nature of medical school application. As a minority / ESL applicant, it may be even harder because of the stereotype that ESL students can't speak English. You may therefore need to put extra time and do extra things in order to prove that you don't belong to that stereotype. My suggestion to you, therefore, is: don't fixate on something that you can't change (such as your gender and your ethnicity) and wonder how that can affect the outcome. Instead, try to see what you can do to improve yourself and your chances. If you can be more competitive than most applicants, I'm sure you don't need to worry about whether there is indeed ethnic / gender bias in the admission process, since no school will be willing to give you up despite your ESL background.
08-03-2001, 04:22 AM
Coyote, I doubt anybody really minds accents. But the English proficiency criterion is there for a reason - because English <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> grammar<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> is difficult (arguably the most flexible but difficult aspect of English), and a poor grasp of grammar can result in misunderstandings, something which must be kept at a minimum in medicine. Sure, it doesn't matter if you use split infinitives, dangle participles, don't use idioms in your writing, or have scarce vernacular in your speech. But there are enough problems and ambiguities there to seriously impede one from practising good medicine in Canada. You mentioned your excellent record in undergrad despite competing with native Anglophones - but judging by your post on this message board, I can tell that your English grammar is quite flawless, so this evens the playing field for you and that makes you a bad example of an ESL student with less-than-perfect English who does well in his/her university studies.
For other ESL students (and believe me, there are many whose English is far poorer than yours, half of my friends included), journals and texts are <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> difficult to read<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> accurately. The only subject in which the disparity is not obvious is probably mathematics, where the symbols are universal. Don't tell me that all of these people are "capable enough to enter [well, maybe "succeed" is a better word] an undergrad program in any Canadian university" and "are already used to being 'taught in English... expected to read textbooks, do research, browse journal articles, and communicate with [their] fellow classmates and doctors in English' - that's not true for most ESLers I know - many form study groups in which they speak the same <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> foreign<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> language to help each other translate and fully understand what they have read, and when some of them write papers, they are incoherent grammatical messes that may or may not signify that they understand what they're writing.
To conclude, it's not (at least I hope it's not) stereotypes about ESL that render the English proficiency criterion a serious one, but it's the need to prove to the adcoms, with what little opportunity you have, that you can correctly and reliably interpret everything you hear and read, to avoid confusion when someone's health will be at stake.
Secondly, about the gender issue, I think the M:F ratio is so low at UBC (and also biased either way at other schools, like Stanford is toward males) is that men and women interview differently. Some women (sorry guys) physically present themselves better. Some men are confrontational with their interviewers, while I've never heard of any women having confrontational interviews. I've seen some guys go to an interview dressed almost casually. Never seen or heard of any women doing that. Men and women sit and move in their chairs differently. I'm not pointing my finger at any one thing, but all these "negligible" differences add up and I'm sure interviewers don't intend to bias their decisions on gender, but it's unavoidable, unless that is, we start having blind interviews over the internet, addressing applicants by a number instead of a name. :lol "Welcome applicant #417, why do you wish to become a doctor?"
Sorry if I sounded a little offensive. Or defensive. LOL I don't even know if this post is on-topic! Gotta sleep. :lol 0] ??
08-03-2001, 07:18 AM
YongQ: I appreciate your reply and I don't think your reply is off-topic at all. I agree with you that grammar (or other aspects of the English language) is important to the practice of medicine because of the communicative nature of this profession. And believe me, I know how bad the English of some ESL students is, since I'm a TA and I frequently need to grade their assignments and lab reports. Some of them do have a serious problem in constructing a grammatically correct sentence. From my previous post, I do recognize the importance of having a good command of English, because it's the foundation of clear and comprehensible communication.
However, I think there is a different story among the applicants who apply for any medical programs in Canada / US. Given the high admission standards of medical schools, I'm sure that many of those who are considered to be bad at English won't even consider applying, since probably their grades alone won't satisfy the requirement. Therefore I seriously doubt that many of the applicants with ESL background will be bad English speakers and can't even write a coherent essay (at least if they really can't write, they can't even get good grades in the MCAT writing section). That's why I argue that being an ESL student doesn't automatically translate into poor English and low competitiveness. In general, ESL students MAY be worse in English than second-generation immigrants / native Canadians, but this may not necessarily hold true for ESL students who're qualified enough to apply (or even think of applying).
I think Immune's question is: among those who're qualified and courageous enough to apply, and given 2 people who have similar grades, clinical / research experiences, interview performance, etc., will the committee favor someone in certain ethnic group / gender? This is the crucial question to answer since this is what really constitutes discrimination and unfair judgment.
From my previous post, my answer to this question is: no one will ever know, except those who are in the committee. Or even in the worst case scenario, they don't even know whether they have discriminated against somebody based on his/her ethnicity and gender. This is because medical school admission is such a subjective and arbitrary game that there is no concrete rule to follow. Every applicant may have background, education, and experiences similar to each other. In this case, why certain people are selected and why some will be rejected seems very mysterious to me. That's why I think the committee members may not even realize whether they have discriminated against someone, since they have to choose between 2 people who're highly similar and they have to do it quickly. In their decision-making process, they may (just an example) favor Caucasian applicants because they think they're more likely to stay in Canada to work, or they may have a better command of English. When you have to make quick but difficult decisions like this, very often you will base it on probability statements (or precisely, stereotypes) which are not necessarily related to these applicants' ability or personality. Therefore, there MAY not be overt discrimination (such as setting quotas on race groups / gender), but I don't think anyone can be confident enough to conclude that there's no subtle and endemic discrimination like what I have suggested.
FYI: From the statistics from 2000 (or 1999?), the difference in GPA, MCAT scores etc. between those who're rejected and those who're accepted is not even statistically significant!!! So where's the line between these 2 groups? What makes 1 group superior to the other? Is it really about the interview? Even it's about the interview, we know that there are so many other factors (besides one's actual performance) that can affect the score he / she will receive. It could be one's command of English, it could even be an innocent gesture by the applicant! It may not be all about English or your looks, cos' we clearly know that someone's gender or ethnicity will affect the interviewer's perception. As YongQ said, some females do know how to present themselves, and many have reported seeing different attitudes from the same interviewer when he interviews applicants with different gender. Given the subjectivity and arbitrariness of interviews, there won't be enough time for an interviewer to look past superficial things and really get to know an applicant. The danger of this is, of course, that the interviewers will eventually base their decisions on their first impressions, which are often false and judgmental.
I think there's no easy answer to this "quota" question, and I don't think it's healthy to dwell too much into this aspect of things. Imagine how you'll feel if it turns out that your ethnicity is what causes you to be rejected. Or for those who're admitted, imagine how that feels if you learn that you're selected not because of your ability or your personality, but because you belong to a "favored" group and there're simply quotas to be filled.
Therefore, I think there are 3 ways to to put these doubts into rest. First, medical schools should be more open in their selection process so that their applicants know exactly what to expect. Second, raise awareness among interviewers on the subjective nature of interviews and the inaccuracy of first impressions. This can definitely be done since all of them have to receive training anyways. As physicians, they are taught to remain calm and objective, and these very same attitudes should be extended to medical school interviews.
The first 2 ways may sound idealistic and it depends on whether the administration is willing to do something. Unfortunately I don't think they would, so my last suggestion is: focus on what you can improve, and try your best in everything. It's just easier to change yourself than changing the entire system.
08-03-2001, 08:51 AM
While I really know nothing about UBC adcoms and such (since I never bothered applying there), I was given the impression that UBC was biased towards those (specifically) of asian descent by my classmates.
I know of some people going into in the interview with over 95 precentile ranking and coming out in the last 10 % afterwards. This isn't to say that their interview were bad in the least or that they somehow messed it up (as some would like to rationalize it), but there is serious questions about the arbitrary manner in which people are scored.
Many have phoned the UBC admissions to find out why they fared so badly in the interviews, and they often have very lame feed back such as "you were too shy", "you were too confident", etc. One student was rejected twice: first for being too shy, then for being too confident. After making a complaint about it, they let him in. There was even someone who asked about why his sister was rejected from a prof with connections to the adcom at UBC that he happened to do research with. Off the record, he told him simply that "they probably didn't want very smart chinese students, and if he were also thinking of medicine, that he himself shouldn't apply UBC either".
This type of feed back only goes to further those rumours of bias and arbitrary selection by the UBC adcoms. It also makes you wonder about what they actually look at in the selection. With such feed back (and rejection of some very high performing applicants while accepting others with significantly lower grades), it seems a little superficial, and does little for the reputation of the school.
Whether these rumours are actually true or not remains unproven. However, I think this is healthy to have such scrutiny of the admission processes in med schools. To be ignorant of or deny that the system is prone to bias or racial discrimination is naive to say the least. I'm not saying that they do this on purpose (could be a systemic problem that they just do unconciously), but that it probably exists to some degree. It's important for us to be aware with what we may be up against when we apply, and that if it is found to have problems, changes can be made to fix them.
As for the stereotype of typical ESL students, I really must say that this stereotype should not be furthered by anyone. It's unfair to judge a whole group and say that "most people are like this and that because half of my friends that I saw were like that".
To blame their failures in admissions on English proficiency is wrong (and proficiency in english is really subjective in itself to certain degrees; just how proficient are you going to look for?). Like coyote, I do believe that ESL applicants who do apply for med school have already attained a certain proficiency enough for use and communication between patients and colleagues. If they didn't, it would show on their MCATs.
I know of many people who were ESL students, and their english proficiency is quite good (better than lots of native born Canadians and CBCs). It is wrong to assume that they would naturally be bad, and be less competitive in university as well.
08-03-2001, 06:33 PM
Akane2000: Thanks A LOT for your post and I totally agree with you! There are so many dark sides to UBC Medicine Admission that they'll send chills down your spine. For 1 thing, how come only those who're rejected will get to know their academic / non-academic scores, but not those who're admitted?
Even when you just look at the scores from those who're rejected, there is often a large discrepancy between their academic and non-academic scores among Asian students. Like you said, Akane2000, those who ranked in the upper 95% academically can score below 5% non-academically. Because of a lack of openness in the selection process, it's not surprising that people suspect that their interview scores have been fudged.
Some of you may say, "Well this proves that those top students may not have the personality / extracurriculars / what it takes to become a doctor", but doesn't this sound counterintuitive to you? Statistically speaking, I think the correlation between grades and non-academic sides of things is more likely to be a positive than a negative one (I'm talking about a general trend here, not any particular person, so don't try to argue against this by giving me case studies like "My friend Barney can't study but he's a good doctor" or "My TA Mr. Hyde is a genius but has a bad temper"). For those who got good grades, they're more likely to be emotionally stable (since they have to focus and pay a lot of attention when studying), and they're also more likely to have good extracurriculars, such as working in hospitals (since they get good grades probably because they know they want to get into medicine, and so they'll also know how and when to arrange for extracurriculars to maximize their chances). They're more likely to do better in MCATs, write better essays etc. I think this correlation holds true REGARDLESS OF ETHNICITY OR GENDER.
Imagine that: an academic grade of over 95 percentile, but a non-academic grade of BELOW 5 percentile (and this often occurs to Asian students, or male students)??? This is not only scary, but humiliating. If the interview really counts towards that much in the non-academic side, a score below 5 percentile usually reflects that: 1) you can't even speak English, 2) you can't even make a conversation, and 3) you could be suffering from severe mental or emotional problems that make communication difficult.
However, during those "why-didn't-I-get-accepted" interview, none of the above reasons is given. Asian students are told vague statements like "you are shy (as what you said, Akane2000). One of the most outrageous reasons for rejection I've ever heard is "You have never moved out to live alone, and you mentioned your parents".
I think this reflects either 1) a total lack of cultural sensitivity among admission committee members. Many Asian students are probably immigrants, and so living with their parents could save money. The Asian culture (or specifically, Chinese / Japanese culture) emphasizes respect and responsibility towards their parents, so the younger generation of a family will usually stay close to their parents in order to take care of them. I'm not sure why this is judged to be a shortcoming by these AdCom members. Maybe they just don't even bother to know about this; maybe they just want to judge people by what they think is right, instead of putting people into an appropriate context and judging them individually based on each of them's special circumstances. I thought that they do this on non-traditional students, as they'll take into account why these students enter medicine so late etc. I'm not sure why they don't want to extend this to people of different cultures / gender.
The 2) reason is even more scary. Given the vague, general, or even stupid "reasons" that these AdCom members gave to the rejected students, probably that these statements are just made up after the fact. That is, the AdCom members don't really have a reason to reject them when they do so (whether they have hidden agenda, or whether they even know that they have hidden agenda, has been addressed in my previous post). So when these people come to ask for answers, they just give them some vague remarks that don't really make a difference, since these are not concrete things these people could improve themselves on (So what should I do if I'm rejected on the basis of "not yet moved out and like my parents"? Should I move out immediately and disown my parents now???)
The only solution to this, I think, is to make the admission committee divulge more information. They shouldn't post the scores of only those who're rejected. Instead, all applicants, regardless of whether they're selected or rejected, should have their scores released to them. Also, the scores shouldn't be grouped into just "academics" and "non-academics". How about ranking the applicants on every aspect of the pre-requisites e.g. have separate scores for GPA, MCAT, interview, extracurriculars, personal statement.....etc? Only through this, we'll know that what makes the difference between selection and rejection.
(and honestly, as a patient and a "consumer" of the health care system, I think both grades and personality are important to the medical profession. I want a doctor who is knowledgeable, but also compassionate. However, if I really need to choose between someone with good grades but may not have the personality, and someone who's the nicest person in the world but just is not as knowledgeable about stuff, I'LL DEFINITELY PICK THE ONE WITH GOOD GRADES. It's not my bias, but a realistic choice. When my life is being put on the line, I want someone who knows what he / she is doing, is confident enough to make the decision, and can save my life. At that moment, I don't really care about personality as much, as I don't need someone who has good communication skills but has nothing to communicate on since he / she doesn't know much, or someone who has a compassionate personality but doesn't know when and what to help. I'm not sure whether the AdCom members have ever thought about this when they discriminate against those brilliant students. I hope they did.)
08-03-2001, 07:32 PM
I can't speak at all with respect to any cultural biases, but in defense of the UBC Admissions Committee, I am very pleased with the way that they, unlike most other schools Canada-wide, provide as much information as they do in their rejection letters. Although the letter does not reveal all aspects of the applicant's evaluation, provided that the information is accurate, it gives the applicant a much more realistic and concrete idea of whether the application may be improved for later attempts at medical school entry. This I find more constructive and heartening when re-vamping an application than blindly making changes and re-applying (i.e., being permitted little understanding of other medical school selection processes) and the resultant feeling that a cash cow is, perhaps, being well fed.
Hats off to UBC for some progressiveness and (hopefully) evolution in the medical school admissions process.
08-03-2001, 07:38 PM
I wasn't trying to perpetuate any stereotype. And I've never seen a medical school application which requires you to answer the question "are you ESL?" It's more a question of evaluating absolute skill than categorizing someone's ethnicity.
Coyote's comment, "For 1 thing, how come only those who're rejected will get to know their academic / non-academic scores, but not those who're admitted?" - well this happens because those rejected should know where their weaknesses lie, but those who are accepted shouldn't be able to compare themselves to their fellow classmates, because this could create unnecessary rivalries in the class when everybody is supposed to be supporting each other.
The next comment stating that grades & emotional stability are correlated are ungrounded in my opinion. Academic focus has nothing to do with emotional stability, and it's reasonable to think that the people with higher grades have <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> less<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> time for extracurriculars. I think people with mid-range to low grades are the most likely to have many extracurricular activities, because no matter how you manage your time there are only 24hrs a day. Personally I've heard of no one who has the whole package of A+ avg, student gov't, volunteer work, and varsity sports. There just is not time for everything, and part of undergrad is gauging what you can and can't fit in the small amt of time you have.
I have a good explanation why there might be a slight anti-Asian bias you speak of (I already talked about the M:F ratio in an earlier post). Most Asians have a much different cultural background than other Canadians - this could possibly lead interviewers to misjudge that they aren't independent, or have poor social skills because they aren't used to the social characteristics of that ethnic group. And this isn't from a prejudice predetermined from the beginning of the interview, it comes up in the manner in which one speaks, thinks, and acts. It really boils down to the same thing as any M:F bias - people with different upbringings will interview differently. And in a country whose main ethnic groups are European, some Asians could be seen as "not assimilated enough." It isn't the interviewers' faults, but it's built into the whole concept of an interview, where one person who is established in [Canadian] society evaluates another's ability to undertake a very social profession.
The way I see it, there are a few ways to fix this problem - (1) eliminate the interview altogether, (2) make the interview worth less of the total evaluation (3) get more interviewers, I'm talking like a panel of 5 or more. I'm sure I don't need to go into how each has its own big disadvantage. Coyote's suggestion of "making adcoms divulge more" won't help, because as long as there are subjective eyes looking into our applications, they can and will do whatever they want. If there is the "hidden agenda" I have no doubt that they'll find a way to pound this into their evaluation, no matter how finely it's broken down.
Is it just me, or is this thread totally crazy? - i.e. full of essay posts which go in every direction? Maybe we should start some new topics to address each issue.
08-03-2001, 08:41 PM
YongQ: I don't think it's a crazy post at all. Whether something is crazy or not totally depends on your perspective. For someone in the mainstream culture and has successfully entered medicine, to closely examine the issue of ethnic / gender bias may sound crazy and meaningless (or even dangerous to their own interest???), but for someone who is a first-generation / ESL immigrant who has been rejected but was not given a reasonable answer, this post / this issue is of utmost importance to them. Whether you want to be empathetic, look at this with a different perspective, listen to different sides of this story, or just have a discussion about it is your choice. And honestly, writing longer posts to address this issue only reflects its significance. I think it's an appropriate thing to do. Whether you want to read this, or as the moderator, to close the discussion, is up to you too.
I don't think only releasing scores to those rejected students will help them "know where their weaknesses lie". First of all, just knowing that a composite score of "non-academics" is low doesn't specifically point me to where I can improve on myself (or maybe the comment "you live alone and you mentioned your parents in the interview" given in the post-rejection interview is a clear one to you?) Second, I didn't realize that "being accepted to medicine" implies that this particular applicant does not have any weaknesses. For those who're accepted I think it's even more important to let them know their weaknesses to prevent this kind of condescending attitude. Also, isn't it necessary for a physician to know your limit and learn which area you should improve on too? Third, I didn't know that there is absolutely no rivalry in medical school and everyone is just happily "supporting each other". Even there may be no grading system in medicine, it's still obvious that who're bright and who're not. There'll still be jealousy; there'll still be competition. (also, don't forget that this score is just printed on the acceptance letter. If you don't want anybody to know, you can just bury it deep underground.)
About the correlation between grades and emotional stability......if you think that academic focus has nothing to do with emotional stability (e.g. stress management, discipline, calmness), I'm not sure how I can convince you to do so. Maybe you have forgotten (or have never experienced) how to maintain an A to A+ in every course you took when midterms and term papers always come together in a big pile. If you're not emotionally stable enough to cope with the stress, you won't get good grades regardless of your intelligence. I agree that you may not have enough spare time to do extracurricular stuff if you maintain good grades, but doesn't good grade come first for any students? Maybe it's just medicine, but from what I know about other fields, graduates with good grades but only a few extracurriculars are seen as more favorable than those with "mid-range and low grades" but tons and tons of extracurriculars.
I'm appalled to read that people seem comfortable seeing the interviewers misjudge applicants because of differences in cultural background. This is what I've already talked about in my previous posts. I accept this as an explanation, but isn't this a WRONG thing to do too? I don't want to repeat the subjective and arbitrary nature of interview, and the effect of one's ethnicity and gender on others' perception. However, is it because we know that prejudice exists and is somewhat inevitable, then we can accept it as the right thing to do to others? I don't know how come it's not the interviewer's faults. I thought that interviewers, like physicians, are supposed to be objective. Although humans can't be totally objective, we have the responsibility to keep ourselves on guard. Discrimination doesn't need to be institutional (e.g. stated in laws) or overt (e.g. bad attitudes towards minority groups); ignorance and prejudice counts too. In a society whose main ethnic group is European BUT WITH TONS OF OTHER MINORITY GROUPS IN GROWING NUMBERS, isn't the concept "where one person who is established in [Canadian] society evaluates another's ability to undertake a very social profession" (or in 1 word: ethnocentric) a scary and unsuitable one?
Well honestly I think it's wise to stop this discussion, NOT BECAUSE IT'S CRAZY, but because there will be no constructive things coming out of it. Racial / Gender discrimination is somewhat like a religion: those who believe will believe; those who have never experienced it or don't want to believe will never believe. No language could fully describe its existence or its impact; you can only feel it by experiencing it. It's really up to what the AdCom wants to do. As Akane2000 said, it'll only hurt the reputation and the quality of the incoming class of UBC medicine if the AdCom still maintains its ignorant and condescending attitude.
08-03-2001, 10:39 PM
I think this has been a great thread, and there's no risk that I'll be locking it down. The only way that would happen is if it degenerated into personal attacks, or the thread advocated something that was clearly illegal/immoral.
As I've said earlier, there are people at UBC who have gained admittance although English is their second language. However, I think that only the strongest ESL students eventually go on to achieve the high marks in their GPA and MCAT's, and make the networking connections to doctors and such which form a large part of the application process. This is what I was referring to when I mentioned my belief that ESL students weed themselves out. The ones who eventually are successful were successful because their command of English was strong enough that they completed undergrad in very high standing. In other words, their command of English wasn't a handicap because they were very capable in English.
Just to reinforce this, I can tell you that everyone in my class has a very strong command of English. I think this is crucially important, especially in a curriculum and an eventual profession that has a hallmark of continuous self-education. We aren't talking about easy English either. While reading a medical journal isn't as mind-bending as trying to wrap your head around a Philosophy article, reading medical literature isn't as simple as picking up and digesting a newspaper.
There aren't many ESL students that I know who can compete at the level of someone who learned English as their primary language. The ESL students who did and applied to med school, I suppose you could call my classmates. :) Coyote, your command of English is excellent, and while you learned English as your second language, I think the quality of your written posts is excellent, and that will be noticed when you submit your autobiographical materials. A less-capable ESL student who submits an essay with grammatical errors (that hopefully would be caught and corrected by a native English speaker) is already down one strike in the admissions process.
As far as the feedback process goes, I admit that I would have liked to have seen my score breakdown, but it really doesn't matter. I suspect that this is the case for most of my classmates. Once you are accepted, you don't really talk about your marks or MCAT's, or anything else. It's just assumed that we are all at the same level.
I don't really accept your argument that accepted applicants should receive detailed feedback so that they can work on their "deficient" areas. I don't put much faith in the idea of changing my personality or working on my deficient areas based on what some admissions committee members think. I believe that I personally have a better idea of what I might lack, or what goals I'd like to achieve for myself as a person. The admissions committee's perspective on who I am is theirs and theirs alone. I'll decide what I need to work on by myself without a "big brother" listing out what they think I could improve on.
Finally, I utterly and totally disagree with your belief that marks and personality are as coupled as you think. In fact, I think that marks and personality really don't have very much in common. There are all types of people in our class, from those who must study compulsively each night to those folks who accomplish 95% of their studying for the term in the last 3-4 days before finals. I haven't seen any correlation between these study habits and the personalities of the individuals. Some of the nicest people in the class work the hardest, while other hard workers have the reputation for being keeners and gunners. Go figure. There are people in my class who don't get along with many other people, and those people are all over the spectrum in terms of how they perform in class.
Finally, I don't think marks are very much reflective of one's ability to be a good doctor. I guarantee that you'll discover after the summer of first year of med school that you've already forgotten 50% of what you've learned the previous year. Last spring I could have told you the origins and insertions of every muscle in the forearm, along with their blood supply and nervous innervation. You could have handed me a scalpel and a cadaver, and I'd be able to show you any upper extremity structure you want. Today, I'm struggling to even remember the *names* of some of those muscles. Why? Because whatever you don't use, you'll lose. How much do you really plan on retaining after 4 years of med school plus 2-6 years of residency?
Being able to draw out every biochemical structure and co-factor in the Glycolytic cycle might help you get that 100% mark, but I guarantee you that no practising doctor will remember such facts. That kind of minutiae just isn't relevant to clinical practice, although it's questions like that, and knowing their answers, that often define whether you recieve a 90% in your course or an 80%.
The other major difficulty is that most diagnoses are based on the history that you obtain from your patient. You need to have skills to elicit the history from your patient in an efficient and timely manner. If each patient came to the office with a neatly typed report of all illnesses ever suffered by his/her family, a list of all previous personal illnesses/hospitalizations/surgeries, an accurate (you'd be surprised how often people will fudge this) account of their food and drug intake, a complete and thorough description of their current problem, a comprehensive report of all medications both prescribed, OTC, and alternative, etc, etc, then perhaps the smartest person will make the correct diagnoses more frequently.
However, you need to have the personal skills to dig out those private items such as sexual histories, or psychiatric problems, or illicit drug usage, or whatnot, and I think these skills, along with physical assessment skills like getting as much information as possible from just observing the patient, form a very large part of getting the correct diagnosis. Just as an example, there's a pharmaceutical commercial that's been on TV for a while now about erectile dysfunction, and it shows a fifty-something guy coming in for his annual physical, and then not having the courage/opportunity to tell his doctor and get help. If you can't elicit the information from your patient, you can't help them. Period.
For this reason, you really need to make sure that each person you admit into medical school has the personality type that works well with other people, whether they be patients, doctor colleagues, or fellow healthcare practitioners.
In many cases, I'd actually value the doctor with the good communication skills, as long as they were of adequate competancy. It actually doesn't take much brains to manage most diseases that patients present with, just lots of previous experience. You'll get that experience whether you're a naturally smart cookie or not.
UBC, Med 3
08-04-2001, 12:27 AM
Hi Coyote, I didn't mean the <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> subject matter<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> of the posts are crazy - but we're trying to discuss too many thigns at once, and I'm getting a little confused having to address each thing separately - I think we're trying to discuss racial discrimination, the significance of the interview, the importance of English, and the role of academic prowess, all at once. I don't know about you, but for me that's <!--EZCODE BOLD START--> too much<!--EZCODE BOLD END--> to chew :x . That's why I suggested the creation of new threads.
Keep up the discussion. Though it may not be going anywhere, these topics have <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--> no<!--EZCODE ITALIC END--> right answers, so that can be expected. Besides, it's fun :)
08-04-2001, 11:30 AM
<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote>Quote:<hr> I have a good explanation why there might be a slight anti-Asian bias you speak of (I already talked about the M:F ratio in an earlier post). Most Asians have a much different cultural background than other Canadians - this could possibly lead interviewers to misjudge that they aren't independent, or have poor social skills because they aren't used to the social characteristics of that ethnic group. And this isn't from a prejudice predetermined from the beginning of the interview, it comes up in the manner in which one speaks, thinks, and acts. It really boils down to the same thing as any M:F bias - people with different upbringings will interview differently. And in a country whose main ethnic groups are European, some Asians could be seen as "not assimilated enough." It isn't the interviewers' faults, but it's built into the whole concept of an interview, where one person who is established in [Canadian] society evaluates another's ability to undertake a very social profession.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END-->
While, I don't really want to repeat what coyote said, I really must say that it is these attitudes are very disturbing. The concept of being seen as "not assimilated enough" is a really subjective one, and do you really feel that this excuse is a useful measurement in determining who will become good doctors? Does it have any bearing on future care or suitability? I would really have to say that it should not.
You have just decribed exactly what it means to be discriminated and then rationalize the discrimation as acceptable behaviour. Is it the interviewer's fault? It is to some degree of the systemic discrimination. However, I don't believe that it should be continued in our multiculturally sensitive Canadian society. It should not be viewed as acceptable at all in Canadian society (maybe in the US, but not in Canada). What makes these asian students any less canadian/independant than yourself just because they live at home? Should this really be used as criteria to screen students applying to med school? (I can now see all those premed students moving out just because they heard about this :lol )
What you wrote is a very good explanation for why these things happen again and again to asian canadians in all workforces. We will hit glass ceilings in our careers, and be faced with these invisible barriers due to such attitudes perpetuated by people like those interviewers. This should not be acceptable at all, but because of such, we will experience more hardships than those who do not face these barriers. That's why it's important to look at the system and find better ways of improving it. However, we must first find its problems. If no one scrutinizes this, many more will continue to be hurt or disadvantaged by an already unfair selection process.
08-04-2001, 04:38 PM
Akane, I didn't try to rationalize discrimination as acceptable behaviour, just one that is built into the interview. Interviewers, in trying to pick suitable candidates, are pushed into a game comparing apples with oranges. While candidates have some qualities like personability, morality, and intellectual prowess which can be reasonably evaluated independent of the candidate's ethnic background, the candidate him/herself is also largely a product of his/her ethnicity and this "rubs off" on the candidate's personality, movements, and even his or her CV (e.g. volunteering in a cultural setting). It's part of the package, so how can we ask interviewers to ignore it? In a perfect world, I agree with everybody here in that ethnicity wouldn't be a factor, but let's get real here, it will always be a problem - that doesn't mean that we shouldn't take measures to try to downplay its effects, e.g. by training interviewers to be more multiculturally sensitive/savvy - but as long as the human race is an ethnically diverse one, I don't believe we can attain total objectivity.
08-07-2001, 12:48 PM
Receiving a rejection can be a very painful and emotional event for someone. I think it is a natural defense mechanism to try and put the blame elsewhere in an attempt to alleviate some of the personal despair. I know because I've done it myself many times. However, I feel like I should defend the UBC adcom because, for the most part, it seems like they do a good job. I think people are failing to observe some facts before the claim discrimination.
First: Look at the ethnic diversity of the AdCom themselves. Both of my interviewers had immigrated to Canada (France and Pakistan) and I can think of others (including Asian). I don't think that anyone is going to say that these people have forsaken their cultural views to go along with a standard view of an ideal candidate that discriminates against Asians.
Second: I know that the AdCom can give some pretty shaky reasons as to why someone was rejected but I also don't believe that these are reserved for Asians. A friend of mine has been rejected two years in a row. The first because he was too "arrogant", the second because he was too "timid". Another friend was rejected because he still lived with his parents.
Third: One only has to look at the Med2004 class to see how truly ethnically diverse it is. I haven't seen any photos of the other classes but I can almost guarantee that they hold a similar ethnic mix.
I have talked to quite a few people of different race and gender who have received rejections from UBC at some point and almost all of them initially claimed some sort of discrimination. I know that I had a whole bunch of excuses ready to let loose if I was rejected. I'm sure this post won't change people's minds but I just wanted to add some facts that might show a different side to the AdCom and the application process as a whole.
08-07-2001, 01:53 PM
The topic on this thread is an important one, especially for a place such as UBC where, I assume, a large number of asian applicants apply. Added to this situation is that a number of these applicants have immigrated from other countries hence their English may be not at the same level as those who were born in Canada.
My feelings towards ESL speakers will be an open response-- accents aside, doctors need to have a great command of English to communicate not only with other doctors and patients but with other medical staff. I feel that UBC makes a good effort in judging whether or not an applicant has a good command of English capable of medical school. As for quotas for races, my feelings are mixed.
Medical school, like any other academic community, has to foster an encouraging environment that fosters learning and co-operation. It has been shown that an array of people from different backgrounds tends to aid this all-important process, race being but one characteristic. At the same time, however, one has to be reminded that hoping to develop such a diverse class should not come at a cost of academic integrity.
Assuming that there is no significance in intelligence among ethnicities, I would believe that a proportionate number of each ethnicity would be represented in the medical class. Hence, if 25% of applicants were Chinese-Canadians, then I would hypothesize that 25% of the entering class would also be Chinese-Canadian. I will take this further and also pose that the same should occur for sex as well.
The problem in the former is that such statistics are not available for the general public. The latter has already been mentioned in the fact that there is a statistically significant difference between the acceptance of male applicants compared to female applicants. Hence, if 50.3% of applicants are male then I also assume that 50.3% of the class would also be male. This is not the case. It is for these reasons that I question the adcom at UBC. Until all statistics are released, I do not think we can ever come up with a resolution.
08-07-2001, 05:18 PM
Your friend was rejected for staying with his parents?? How did he find this out, the interviewer told him 'Sorry son, but since you can't seem to let mommy and daddy go we won't be letting you in at this time'. I would think that if an adcom member gave me such a lame reason I would be liable to bring the matter to a higher authority. Did your friend mention the finanical burden of staying on your own? Or maybe that he was needed to help contribute in the running of the household?
08-07-2001, 06:47 PM
It was a similar reason that Coyote and Akane talked about above. In the post-rejection interview he was told that because he hadn't moved out yet, it was interpreted as not having enough independence, etc. The fact that the interviewer didn't consider the financial situation or the needs of the family is what was so frustrating. I mentioned it to make the point that these awful reasons for rejection aren't isolated to just one cultural group.
04-30-2011, 03:10 PM
Jesus this thread is like...10 years old.
Also, Ian is very articulate. I'm very impressed.
05-01-2011, 04:51 PM
Jesus this thread is like...10 years old.
Also, Ian is very articulate. I'm very impressed.
and you have just revived the thread.....
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