Black medical students have been consistently underrepresented in Canadian medical schools, and data on the impact of discrimination on their medical education remain limited. In this cross-sectional study, we aimed to investigate the experiences of Black medical students through the Black Medical Students’ Association of Canada (BMSAC).
We developed a 63-item instrument around the domains of inclusion and diversity, wellness, discrimination, career advancement and diversity in medical education. The anonymous web-based questionnaire was sent to 128 medical students and first-year residents from all 17 Canadian medical schools via the BMSAC listserv. We obtained frequencies for demographic data and self-reported experiences.
We received 52 responses. Of respondents, 59% had at least 1 personal encounter with discrimination in medical school. Discrimination was experienced in both clinical and Academic contexts, notably from patients, peers and hospital staff. Students further along in their medical training were more likely to endorse having experienced discrimination in medical school. Most respondents had positive experiences with Academic and clinical inclusion, as well as resiliency in the face of discrimination. However, most respondents had negative experiences relating to reporting discrimination, their well-being, career advancement, sentiments of minority tax and low diversity in medical education.
We found that discrimination has important implications on the learning experiences of Black medical students surveyed from the BMSAC. This directly challenges the notion that Canadian medical schools are impervious to racism and highlights the need for advocacy and systemic changes to eliminate institutional racism.