05/06/2024 lewrockwell.com  4 min 🇬🇧 #249879

Was She a Person of Color

By Ricky Cochran

June 5, 2024

I want to share my experience applying to medical school at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University. I will never forget it.

I cleaned up, got in my suit and tie. Everything was pretty standard until this doozie in my interview:

"Describe a time when you stood up for someone who was marginalized."

I proceeded to tell them the story of a new nurse who felt bullied by the nurses training her. She came to me in tears. I went to my boss and suggested that we should retrain her from the beginning, and I would be happy to do it. I knew that I would have to navigate an even more complex social environment at work. My very small unit only had 8 nurses.

Their only response: "Was she a person of color?"

"No." It hung in the air for quite some time.

I should have realized immediately that something was very off, but I had spent the prior 8 years preparing for medical school as a "nontraditional" student. The interview proceeded. Desire and hope formed my rose-colored glasses. I thought the interview went well. Not perfect, but well.

After my interview, we took a tour of the college. This tour was led by several of the current students. Spoiler alert: one sad irony is how many students said I would be a great asset to the class because of all my nursing experience.

Perhaps I was becoming frustrated when I asked how many of their students attended class. OU had the classes set up where the only required course with required attendance (cadaver anatomy) was the first course of the program. They openly did this to make it more convenient for students to not attend lectures. Lectures from multiple years are provided online, like Khan Academy without the engaging and passionate educator.

Also, I was playing inside baseball. I already knew no one really attended lectures, because of all the time I had spent with the doctors with whom I worked.

"Not many."

"Can you estimate a percentage?"

"About 20% of the class attends lectures."

"Class-goers," I heard one guide mutter with the fervor one uses when using a racial slur.

I still had my rose colored glasses. I made up my mind that I was going to attend every lecture, out of respect and honor. Be the change you want to see in the world. I did not get that chance. I was rejected for admission.

About a month after my rejection, I was allowed to participate in a "reapplicant workshop" for those that intended to reapply. After providing a one page summary of my own perceived strengths and weaknesses, I spoke with a doctor who sat on the admissions committee. It was difficult to tell if she read the page or not before the telephone appointment. I remember having to remind her of the contents several times.

In the end, the only two pieces of advice she provided was to retake the MCAT and obtain a higher score and get more "shadowing" hours with physicians. I asked why I would retake the MCAT when I had tested better than half of the class they admitted for that year (they had told us the median score of the class accepted, 510, which was exactly my score). I also said that I have been working as a Registered Nurse in ER, ICU, and Post Anesthesia Recovery for the past 5 years and spent more time with doctors than I did with my own family. I was told that wasn't the same.

I decided I would not reapply.

A year and half later, I applied to Oklahoma State University College of Medicine. I had been a nurse through COVID and was doing soul searching on whether or not being a doctor was really what God had called me to do. It is hard to kick against the goads, but I was gonna give it one more shot. OSU has less stringent admissions requirements. I already knew that my MCAT score was well above the median for the school.

It was one week too late. I asked for an exception. Since the school had a COVID policy where they accepted pass/fail grades for required classes, I didn't think this was too big of an ask. I was not granted that exception.

I asked to appeal that decision. I was told the appeal would go to the same person that made the decision, so there was really no reason to appeal it. When I complained of the lack of transparency about the system, I was then told how the lack of transparency actually worked in my favor and allowed the college to make a decision about the application as a whole.

I am no longer pursuing admission to medical school, foreign or domestic. I feel the process promotes corruption and may even require it. I sympathize with the students who were not granted admission. I feel for their paranoia. Being asked to say the "right" things rather than the true things can be exhausting.

Mostly, I feel for the patients who will not receive my care as a physician.

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