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New Black Student Application Program (Bsap)

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Just saw this on U of T Med's YouTube channel:

 

"Black Student Application Program (BSAP) is an optional application stream for Black applicants who self-identify as Black African, Black Caribbean, Black North American, multi-racial students who have and identify with their Black ancestry, etc. The aim of this application program is to increase and support Black medical student representation at the University of Toronto. Through BSAP we hope to break down some of the barriers that might impede black students from applying and nurture an inclusive environment that is welcoming to all."

 

Thoughts?

 

tl;dr (or rather tl;dw):

- optional applicant stream

- applicants must meet same admissions requirements (MCAT, GPA, prereqs) as applicants through general stream

- no quota for students admitted through BSAP

- BSAP specific essay as part of non-academic requirements

- applicant file reviews and interviews include Black physicians an/or Black community members

 

More info: http://www.medicine.utoronto.ca/news/u-t-launches-black-student-application-program-strengthen-diversity-medical-school

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Personally, I think this is an excellent idea (why couldn't this have been implemented this cycle!) A lot of why myself (and fellow Black Canadians) find/found it difficult to apply to medical school is because we feel as though medicine is not a 'black' profession. Of course, I cannot speak for all coloured individuals, simply for myself and my peers; however, I feel as though an application process that targets our population, and exposes us to black physician-scientists/community physicians would undoubtably spark some interest in the natural and clinical sciences amongst our cohort (by making us feel as though we DO belong in medicine). That's just my $0.02.

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In my opinion, positive discrimination is unfair for everyone.

I understand this frame of reference; if it weren't for the fact that prospective applicants had to meet the standard set for ALL applicants (i.e. GPA & MCAT) my opinion with regards to this initiative would be different. Indeed, there is a delicate line which separates the sparking of interest in minority groups and outright discriminatory bias. 

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Interesting, I wonder what exactly the purpose of applying through this stream would be if all application requirements are the same and there is no quota - would applicants have a slight upper hand if they write a good essay over an applicant outside of this stream that they are otherwise equal to? Or is it purely a method to reach out to potential black applicants to encourage more of them to apply?

Either way, not being black I can't personally know the barriers that one might face to applying so assuming this stream was developed by/with feedback from black individuals, I support it. I also agree that it's important to have diversity in the physician community as our population in Canada and therefore the patients being treated are so diverse.

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Interesting, I wonder what exactly the purpose of applying through this stream would be if all application requirements are the same and there is no quota - would applicants have a slight upper hand if they write a good essay over an applicant outside of this stream that they are otherwise equal to? Or is it purely a method to reach out to potential black applicants to encourage more of them to apply?

Either way, not being black I can't personally know the barriers that one might face to applying so assuming this stream was developed by/with feedback from black individuals, I support it. I also agree that it's important to have diversity in the physician community as our population in Canada and therefore the patients being treated are so diverse.

 

I agree with this.

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I don't think I personally agree with this. I am all for affirmative action in medicine when it helps improve accessibility to healthcare by large portions of Canada's population (indigenous affirmative action), but Canada doesn't have the same problem with underprivileged black communities that the U.S does. Since I understand that this is a sensitive topic, I am going to outline my understanding of why these programs are established, why I don't think this is a useful program, and an alternative solution.

 

Why affirmative action exists: Affirmative action in medicine is established to allow patients access to physicians that meet their special needs and choose to live in areas that have issues with physician accessibility. The indigenous community is a perfect example of both, where Aboriginal doctors are able to go back to their communities and help alleviate some of the terrible healthcare related conditions and exercise medicine that best suits their religious and cultural practices. Other effective affirmative actions are programs like SWOMEN and NOSM's context score that appreciate the best way to tackle rural physician shortage is to have physician from these areas go back to these areas. Affirmative action should not be a political move to try and represent all ethnic/religious backgrounds for the sake of diversity, but rather to establish a system that helps patients the best. 

 

Why BSAP is not an ideal program: Unlike the U.S, Canada does not have large communities of black people that are isolated and have trouble accessing health care. I can't imagine that there are cases where physicians have refused treatment of a patient because he/she was black, nor do I image that a patient has not sought out a physician because he/she wasn't black. Having more black physicians in the medical field for the sake of having more black physicians is a weak argument that can be extended to any nationality, sexual orientation, and even religion. I will reiterate this: our entry into medical school is for the sole purpose of the patients we will be serving. We are not here to look good and cultured on the cover of a brochure. 

 

Alternative: I believe that the biggest and often underappreciated barrier in healthcare is class. Looking at the staggering statistics of accepted Canadian medical students, the average applicant comes from a family that makes >100k/year, regardless of ethnicity. It is the cost of the application, MCAT, and overall upbringing that gives students an edge in the road to medicine and I believe is the major reason that we have such issues with physician's going back to the large, rich cities. People in medicine come from a certain lifestyle and they are just going to go back to it. A better program to is to implement a similar system as University of Manitoba, which reserves seats for lower SES, or a system like the U.S. that gives financial aid in application materials/costs to applicants of lower SES.

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I don't think I personally agree with this. I am all for affirmative action in medicine when it helps improve accessibility to healthcare by large portions of Canada's population (indigenous affirmative action), but Canada doesn't have the same problem with underprivileged black communities that the U.S does. Since I understand that this is a sensitive topic, I am going to outline my understanding of why these programs are established, why I don't think this is a useful program, and an alternative solution.

 

Why affirmative action exists: Affirmative action in medicine is established to allow patients access to physicians that meet their special needs and choose to live in areas that have issues with physician accessibility. The indigenous community is a perfect example of both, where Aboriginal doctors are able to go back to their communities and help alleviate some of the terrible healthcare related conditions and exercise medicine that best suits their religious and cultural practices. Other effective affirmative actions are programs like SWOMEN and NOSM's context score that appreciate the best way to tackle rural physician shortage is to have physician from these areas go back to these areas. Affirmative action should not be a political move to try and represent all ethnic/religious backgrounds for the sake of diversity, but rather to establish a system that helps patients the best. 

 

Why BSAP is not an ideal program: Unlike the U.S, Canada does not have large communities of black people that are isolated and have trouble accessing health care. I can't imagine that there are cases where physicians have refused treatment of a patient because he/she was black, nor do I image that a patient has not sought out a physician because he/she wasn't black. Having more black physicians in the medical field for the sake of having more black physicians is a weak argument that can be extended to any nationality, sexual orientation, and even religion. I will reiterate this: our entry into medical school is for the sole purpose of the patients we will be serving. We are not here to look good and cultured on the cover of a brochure. 

 

Alternative: I believe that the biggest and often underappreciated barrier in healthcare is class. Looking at the staggering statistics of accepted Canadian medical students, the average applicant comes from a family that makes >100k/year, regardless of ethnicity. It is the cost of the application, MCAT, and overall upbringing that gives students an edge in the road to medicine and I believe is the major reason that we have such issues with physician's going back to the large, rich cities. People in medicine come from a certain lifestyle and they are just going to go back to it. A better program to is to implement a similar system as University of Manitoba, which reserves seats for lower SES, or a system like the U.S. that gives financial aid in application materials/costs to applicants of lower SES.

 

UofT has a community of support not just for black students but also underrepresented students including those from lower socioeconomic status. 

 

http://www.md.utoronto.ca/community-support

 

I've worked with the community of support to mentor premeds who are immigrants, from a low socioeconomic background and the first person in their family to attend university. All I can say is I wish I could have been part of this program when I was a premed because I had to do everything on my own and it would have meant a lot to me to have a positive mentor of colour / similar financial background that I could connect to in a meaningful way.

 

I grew up in a poor country, and my family was fed by the UN. No one in my family is a doctor. When I was picking undergraduate programs not a single person could help me because no one else I knew, knew anything about Canadian universities. I have always felt alone and confused and relied heavily on premed101 and networking on my own to figure out how to get into medical school.

 

These kinds of programs might come off as an "unfair advantage", but it's not. Seeing how ALL the application standards are the EXACT SAME, this is just to give a leg up to people like me who don't have the same kind of connections others do.

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affirmative action for black people? I definitely agree that black people are underrepresented but that's mostly because they aren't many black students with the required GPA and MCAT scores given how competitive the UofT admissions program is (avg acceptance GPA being 3.96). It's ridiculous that they have to give them a boost in the admissions process. Though to be fair I'm studying in UofT medicine right now, and there isn't a single black student in my class of 270. I guess in a year or so we will know which students were accepted through this affirmative action program and who wasn't.

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affirmative action for black people? I definitely agree that black people are underrepresented but that's mostly because they aren't many black students with the required GPA and MCAT scores given how competitive the UofT admissions program is (avg acceptance GPA being 3.96). It's ridiculous that they have to give them a boost in the admissions process. Though to be fair I'm studying in UofT medicine right now, and there isn't a single black student in my class of 270. I guess in a year or so we will know which students were accepted through this affirmative action program and who wasn't.

Ouch. 

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I don't think I personally agree with this. I am all for affirmative action in medicine when it helps improve accessibility to healthcare by large portions of Canada's population (indigenous affirmative action), but Canada doesn't have the same problem with underprivileged black communities that the U.S does. Since I understand that this is a sensitive topic, I am going to outline my understanding of why these programs are established, why I don't think this is a useful program, and an alternative solution.

 

Why affirmative action exists: Affirmative action in medicine is established to allow patients access to physicians that meet their special needs and choose to live in areas that have issues with physician accessibility. The indigenous community is a perfect example of both, where Aboriginal doctors are able to go back to their communities and help alleviate some of the terrible healthcare related conditions and exercise medicine that best suits their religious and cultural practices. Other effective affirmative actions are programs like SWOMEN and NOSM's context score that appreciate the best way to tackle rural physician shortage is to have physician from these areas go back to these areas. Affirmative action should not be a political move to try and represent all ethnic/religious backgrounds for the sake of diversity, but rather to establish a system that helps patients the best. 

 

Why BSAP is not an ideal program: Unlike the U.S, Canada does not have large communities of black people that are isolated and have trouble accessing health care. I can't imagine that there are cases where physicians have refused treatment of a patient because he/she was black, nor do I image that a patient has not sought out a physician because he/she wasn't black. Having more black physicians in the medical field for the sake of having more black physicians is a weak argument that can be extended to any nationality, sexual orientation, and even religion. I will reiterate this: our entry into medical school is for the sole purpose of the patients we will be serving. We are not here to look good and cultured on the cover of a brochure. 

 

Alternative: I believe that the biggest and often underappreciated barrier in healthcare is class. Looking at the staggering statistics of accepted Canadian medical students, the average applicant comes from a family that makes >100k/year, regardless of ethnicity. It is the cost of the application, MCAT, and overall upbringing that gives students an edge in the road to medicine and I believe is the major reason that we have such issues with physician's going back to the large, rich cities. People in medicine come from a certain lifestyle and they are just going to go back to it. A better program to is to implement a similar system as University of Manitoba, which reserves seats for lower SES, or a system like the U.S. that gives financial aid in application materials/costs to applicants of lower SES.

 

Educational disadvantage for blacks in Canada is a well accepted fact. All this does is level the playing field.

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affirmative action for black people? I definitely agree that black people are underrepresented but that's mostly because they aren't many black students with the required GPA and MCAT scores given how competitive the UofT admissions program is (avg acceptance GPA being 3.96). It's ridiculous that they have to give them a boost in the admissions process. Though to be fair I'm studying in UofT medicine right now, and there isn't a single black student in my class of 270. I guess in a year or so we will know which students were accepted through this affirmative action program and who wasn't.

Firstly, that 3.96 is closer to a cGPA of 3.8 considering the excessive weighting employed by UofT (MCAT is sitting at 500). Secondly, by the looks of it, the BSAP program does not amend GPA/MCAT requirements for prospective black applicants, so your point is moot. 

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No your point is moot. It doesn't change the requirements but requirements are just a bare minimum. Just because I meet the requirements of Running for public office doesn't make me qualified. Though as I said there aren't many black students with high marks for various reasons so that can account for the lack of black med students. I don't agree with affirmative action because it gives certain groups an unfair advantage but it also reinforces stereotypes that certain groups lack in credentials. As I mentioned this doesn't affect me personally as I'm already in my second last year of medical school but this is a common thought among people I know.

 

Firstly, that 3.96 is closer to a cGPA of 3.8 considering the excessive weighting employed by UofT (MCAT is sitting at 500). Secondly, by the looks of it, the BSAP program does not amend GPA/MCAT requirements for prospective black applicants, so your point is moot.

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No your point is moot. It doesn't change the requirements but requirements are just a bare minimum. Just because I meet the requirements of Running for public office doesn't make me qualified. Though as I said there aren't many black students with high marks for various reasons so that can account for the lack of black med students. I don't agree with affirmative action because it gives certain groups an unfair advantage but it also reinforces stereotypes that certain groups lack in credentials. As I mentioned this doesn't affect me personally as I'm already in my second last year of medical school but this is a common thought among people I know.

Your analogy is unsuitable; meeting these so called "minimum requirements" constitutes the total assessment of academic capability for the study of medicine as defined by the institution; the rest of the applications process assesses various non-cognitive factors. As there aren't separate seats for BSAP applicants, I am struggling to understand your (offensively presented) trepidations.

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I honestly feel like it's not very fair to segregate applicants based on their race. I understand that there are not many black applicants, but I don't feel like someone's background should have absolutely any impact on their application. Personally, I am from a white immigrant family from Europe and even though I am white, I come from a background with no one in my family working in the field of medicine, and from a working family. My parents do not contribute much to my eduction and applications and I have been working since I've been 15 to make money for myself and save up for school and applications, courses, MCATs etc. I do not see how my skin colour might affect anything, I feel like I am in the exact same boat as anyone else and if anything, my family and I have faced many, many more hardships than lots of black applicants from my school, who come from rich families that settled in Canada long before anyone from my family has. 

Just my two cents, I think everyone should be able to write an essay about their background and how it affected their journey to become a physician, rather than segregating it based on skin colour. 

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What I don't understand is how this solves any problems faced by these communities in the application process. How does screening applicants through this program at the interview stage ameliorate the difficulties in applying in the first place? They still have to have the same requirements and be selected to interview.

 

I guess this does raise awareness about a problem in medicine these days though about the black community being underrepresented, but I don't believe it helps the "systemic barriers" that these applicants face - finances to apply, etc. 

 

I would agree with Alexis1908, everyone has their own journey into medicine, some from less wealthier backgrounds and others from wealthier backgrounds. I think SES is a huge disadvantage for many applicants that have to spend more time working to be able to apply, and how that may effect grades in UG etc. 

 

I am just struggling to see what this is going to accomplish.

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I think there are SO many factors that cause different disadvantages in applicants that to single one out is a bit weird and fails to recognize the ways in which other factors cause injustice/disadvantages.  Maybe a fair alternative for everyone would be to have a section (like the academic explanations page) where people can choose to talk about something in their life that they believe acted like a barrier or an obstacle.  For some this may be race, culture, SES, living in a rural community or an environment that did not provide them with the same opportunities as most other applicants.

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No, min requirements don't constitute the "total assessment" of academic capability. If they did then there would be no need to differentiate between a 4.0 applicant over a 3.7 applicant. Clearly all schools do differentiate between the two in evaluating applications so your argument is invalid. There are no separate seats but I don't think you should get a boost in your application and be accepted with lower credentials over a more qualified applicant for being black. I'm not being offensive but assuming you are black I'd understand why you'd advocate for a program that provides you with a free advantage.

Your analogy is unsuitable; meeting these so called "minimum requirements" constitutes the total assessment of academic capability for the study of medicine as defined by the institution; the rest of the applications process assesses various non-cognitive factors. As there aren't separate seats for BSAP applicants, I am struggling to understand your (offensively presented) trepidations.

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Medicine is an extremely privileged career path to enter. Students are mostly white, however other (not Black/Aboriginal) ethnic representation is pretty good in urban cities when it comes to medical school classes (e.g. south asian, chinese, etc). However, there is a HUGE shortage of students and professionals who identify as Black and Aboriginal in medicine.

 

I'm actually quite offended by some of the posts here, and I'm not Black. It's not a "free" advantage, considering the historical and social context of where initiatives like these come from. There is no quota. People who choose to apply through these streams write an additional essay and have to meet the same requirements. I can tell you from people I know who identify as Aboriginal who were accepted that they didn't just get in because they were Aboriginal and met baseline requirements - they are evaluated holistically, with rigorous standards applied in the same way, they all had volunteered, been part of policy change, had healthcare experience, etc. Many "unqualified" people of minority groups including Aboriginal and I'm sure Black as well, are rejected on a very regular basis. 

 

It has been well established that income is linked to health, and low SES communities who have worse health, would certainly appreciate being able to identify with their physician and healthcare practitioners. Given again, the racism and systemic discrimination many people face within the healthcare system, being able to identify, even if it's just physically, with your physician can really impact health outcomes. This has been studied. In a city like Toronto, where over 60% of the population is immigrants, a program like this is more important than ever. 

 

Check your privilege people. Seriously. You are being offensive. No, Black people will not take over all the spots, they aren't stealing jobs from you, and this program isn't going to allow "mediocre" people to enter at the expense of all the amazing white people. 

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"No, Black people will not take over all the spots, they aren't stealing jobs from you, and this program isn't going to allow "mediocre" people to enter at the expense of all the amazing white people."

 

I think this statement is pretty offensive, some posts here may have been offensive, but no need to generalize like this. I respect the rest of your post though.

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YES, bellejolie. 

 

It’s not at all a “boost” for “lower” credentials over a “more qualified” non-black applicant. We live in an anti-black society; the lived experiences of a black applicant are different than a non-black applicant, so you cannot truly equate and compare their (let’s face it, still both impressive) credentials. Black applicants are systemically discriminated against since birth, facing significantly more barriers to accessing institutions, all because of the colour of their skin. And this discrimination is compounded by their other intersecting identities (i.e., race, sex, gender, age, social class, faith, sexual orientation, disability, etc.), with each identity associated with its own system of oppression or privilege. BSAP is about checking non-black privilege, and overcoming systemic barriers by giving marginalized voices both space and representation in our society. It’s about training doctors that actually reflect the communities within which they practice. It’s not going to single-handedly overcome centuries of systemic racism, but it’s a constructive step in the right direction. 

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No, min requirements don't constitute the "total assessment" of academic capability. If they did then there would be no need to differentiate between a 4.0 applicant over a 3.7 applicant. Clearly all schools do differentiate between the two in evaluating applications so your argument is invalid. There are no separate seats but I don't think you should get a boost in your application and be accepted with lower credentials over a more qualified applicant for being black. I'm not being offensive but assuming you are black I'd understand why you'd advocate for a program that provides you with a free advantage.

According to the information supplied by the committee on admissions, a 3.8 GPA (competitive) along with a 500 MCAT along with a completed file are sufficient to graduate to the full file review, where non-academics are exclusively assessed. I'm not sure you understand the system completely .... what boost would these applicants be getting. I do not need affirmative action to gain acceptance, my merits alone should be sufficient; this would be true for all applicants processed through the BSAP program. The initiative simply ameliorates the psychological stigma black students face when considering a career in medicine... this is a relatively mild form of interest cultivation at the most, and to insinuate that black students are of reduced capacity as opposed to their ethnically divergent counterparts (and that black students of lower academic capabilities will "steal" spots from other, more qualified applicants) is quite frankly an unfounded argument. Now, when discussing credentials from a non-academic standpoint, these tend to be quite varied and subjective, and so any debate on this front would be fruitless.

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According to the information supplied by the committee on admissions, a 3.8 GPA (competitive) along with a 500 MCAT along with a completed file are sufficient to graduate to the full file review, where non-academics are exclusively assessed. I'm not sure you understand the system completely .... what boost would these applicants be getting. I do not need affirmative action to gain acceptance, my merits alone should be sufficient; this would be true for all applicants processed through the BSAP program. The initiative simply ameliorates the psychological stigma black students face when considering a career in medicine... this is a relatively mild form of interest cultivation at the most, and to insinuate that black students are of reduced capacity as opposed to their ethnically divergent counterparts (and that black students of lower academic capabilities will "steal" spots from other, more qualified applicants) is quite frankly an unfounded argument. Now, when discussing credentials from a non-academic standpoint, these tend to be quite varied and subjective, and so any debate on this front would be fruitless.

 

" I'm not sure you understand the system completely .... what boost would these applicants be getting." If they weren't receiving a boost, then you wouldn't expect to see a change in the number of black students accepted (thus invalidating the objective of this program). You cannot be the beneficiary of a program yet simultaneously deny the existence of the selective benefits that is being conferred to you. Being able to proceed to a file review stage by meeting the 3.8GPA/500MCAT score is not the same as being accepted. And how does an affirmative action program "ameliorate psychological stigma?" And the argument that less qualified black people are being accepted over more qualified individuals is a proven fact, and not an unfounded argument.  Similar affirmative action programs exist in the states  - look up Chokal-Ingam - a brown/south asian man who was rejected to every single medical school but then accepted to every single medical school when reapplying under the pretense of being black with the exact same credentials. I cant speak for black students in Canada, as affirmative action is uncommon, but at least in the States, most black students were only accepted to higher level institutions through affirmative action (again there are plenty of statistics attesting to this, if you need me to reference a link I can).

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