Queen’s University has announced it will be reserving its fast-tracked undergraduate medical program for Black and Indigenous students starting in the next application cycle.
Ten of the 100 spots for the MD program will be offered only to Black and Indigenous candidates.
This will be done through the Queen’s University Accelerated Route to Medical School pathway, which was launched in 2012.
Previously, this program was offered to any qualifying high school student, but on Friday, Queen’s announced the program will be saved for Indigenous and Black Canadians. The university said these 10 seats are in addtion to the four seats designated through the standard admissions process for Indigenous students each year.
“It is being adjusted to address the challenges that certain groups of students have had in getting into medical school and particular Indigenous students and Black students, who are very underrepresented in our medical schools,” said Dr. Jane Phillpott, the new Dean of Health Sciences.
As part of the fast-tracked programs, students spend two years as undergraduates, then rather than take qualifying examinations such as the MCAT, which are part of the standard admissions process, they enter the four-year MD program in the Queen’s School of Medicine, provided they meet the pre-determined entrance criteria .
“This decision is one part of the ongoing work the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) has underway to reduce barriers to education,” a news release from the university read.
Although the fast-track program is not scholarship-based, it is meant to lessen the financial burden on those who might not have the means to pay for for the many years and extras it takes to become a doctor in Canada.
“We certainly know that financial barriers are one of the reasons why some students can’t get access to medical school. It’s not just about the cost of tuition, but of course, it’s about things like writing the MCAT, which is the entrance exam that’s required by most medical schools and and the fees associated with that and the preparatory work,” the new dean said.
She added that Queen’s is looking to find other ways to help racialized students in the faculty of health financially.
Philpott said the move to offer a fast-tracked program to Black and Indigenous students is the first of its kind in the country, but added that it’s only one part of how the faculty of Health Sciences will be aiming to attract students from diverse backgrounds.
She recently announced the formation of Dean’s Action Table on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, which will be comprised of students, staff and faculty from the School of Medicine, the School of Nursing, and the School of Rehabilitation Therapy.
The team will then develop reforms across faculty, aiming to focus on issues like recruitment, mentorship, support and curriculum.
“There’s no one single initiative that’s going to fix the complexity of challenges that we face, not only in academic institutions, but in healthcare institutions in general,” Philpott said.
“This will be done along with a number of initiatives, and we have to work at them one at a time, but we certainly have a lot of lost time to make up for.”