Med school admissions get a makeover

For many students, getting into med school feels like winning the lottery. And soon, for some of them, it will literally be like winning the lottery. 

What happened: Queen’s University will introduce a unique lottery system this fall as part of its medical school application process as it looks to spur admissions for students from diverse backgrounds. The lottery will be used to choose who reaches the first interview stage. 

How it works: After the initial pool of ~5,000 applicants is culled using a cut-off point based on GPA, MCAT score, and performance on the Casper ethics test, the lottery will randomly choose between 600 and 750 students to proceed to a series of online mini-interviews. 

  • From there, 300 to 400 students will make it to the all-important in-person interview stage, before the admissions board picks ~115 students who actually win admission. 

Why it’s happening: A 2020 study found that Canadian med students were over twice as likely than the general populace to have a family income greater than $100,000. By making a portion of the admission completely blind, it cuts out bias admissions boards may have for better-off candidates.

  • Accruing the accolades needed to impress admissions boards and make it to the interview stage is much easier if your family can financially support you through it. 

Why it matters: Levelling the playing field aims to create a healthcare workforce with more diverse backgrounds. Advocates point to various studies which posit that diversity improves performance outcomes for everything from patient satisfaction to access to care.

Yes, but: The real pressing issue in the healthcare sector isn’t just a lack of diversity, it’s a lack of doctors period, and med schools have been loath to increase slots. Between 2010 and 2022, Canada’s population grew 12% but med school admissions grew just 6%.—QH