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J Grad Med Educ. 2010 Sep;2(3):354-9. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-10-00050.1.

Evidence for increasing diversity in graduate medical education: the competence of underrepresented minority residents measured by an intern objective structured clinical examination.



Some have commented that the limited number of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in United States' residency programs is due to a lack of qualified candidates. At the University of Michigan, an objective structured clinical examination is administered to incoming residents at the beginning of training to determine baseline competence. In this study we wanted to determine if competence differed for underrepresented minorities when compared to non-URM residents.


The postgraduate orientation assessment, a 10-station examination, was developed that focused specifically on the knowledge and skills needed in the first 6 to 18 weeks of training. Stations assessed competence in informed consent, aseptic technique, evidence-based medicine, diagnostic images, critical laboratory values, cross-cultural communication, and Joint Commission requirements such as surgical fire safety, pain assessment, and management. We used various assessment measures including standardized patients, computer-based testing, and multiple-choice questions.


Our study found no significant differences in overall mean scores between URM residents and all other residents for the 5 years during which we administered the examination, except for 2002. This stands in contrast to the consistently worse performances of URM students on USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 Clinical Knowledge. Also, URM residents did not perform better or worse than their non-URM colleagues on standardized patient stations during the course of 5 years during which the examination was administered.


The postgraduate orientation assessment provides residency program directors with a standard format to measure initial clinical skills. When compared to incoming non-URM residents from a variety of medical schools, URM residents perform as well as other trainees. Our results may aid in the recruitment efforts of URM medical students into academic residency programs such as those at the University of Michigan.

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