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New research from Yale shows that medical students from marginalized backgrounds, have lower retention rates than their peers. The study shows that minority students are more likely to drop-out or leave medical school than their more privileged colleagues. This research comes in spite of evidence from the Association of American Medical Colleges that more minority students are applying to and enrolling in medical schools in the US. Why is retaining medical students such an issue?

What is going wrong?

Somewhere between enrolment and graduation, something is going terribly wrong. Widening the participation of, and retaining students from, underrepresented groups in HE is a top priority of Governments and HEIs around the globe. But widening participation strategies cannot solely focus and stop at recruitment. Marginalized groups often need the most support throughout HE, not just in getting access to it.

Medical school programs are often considered high stress environments and medical students tend to suffer high levels. This points to the needs for an increased focus on student support and student retention strategies in medical schools. Support needed by students can range from financial, to academic, to emotional.

Identifying what supports are needed and by who, is the key first step to keeping students in education and driving their success to graduation.

medical student retention

How can this be improved?

Student retention strategies are crucial in the early identification and intervention of students who are struggling. For many students, all the early warning signs are there to suggest potential drop-outs. The most effective student retention strategies use technology to help track attendance, engagement and progression. At the first sign of falling behind, teachers and faculty are notified. This allows for critical outreach and intervention, just in time. Medical schools should focus on technologies that can:

  • Track student attendance & engagement
  • Identify at-risk students
  • Enable early alerts to staff
  • Create and review student case

The relationship between student attendance and student success in HE is very strong, clear from years of research. Medical schools should adjust their focus to include supporting the diverse student body they have already recruited, and ensuring their success in education. For retaining medical students, implementing a comprehensive student retention strategy js crucial.

For more see our Student Retention Solutions page.