Student body diversity: relationship to medical students' experiences and attitudes.Acad Med. 2007 Oct; 82(10 Suppl):S85-8.AM
Multiple studies of undergraduate college students have demonstrated the effects of cross-cultural interaction and exposure to diverse ideas on a variety of educational outcomes. The current study was designed to extend this work into medical education, examining student body diversity and school-supported cross-cultural experiences on students' attitudes about diversity.
Four-hundred forty-one rising fourth-year medical students from three schools with differing levels of student body diversity completed a 55-item questionnaire on their background, experiences, and attitudes related to cross-cultural diversity.
Medical students' attitudes about culture and health and their perspectives on societal issues related to diversity were influenced by their medical school experiences. Informal instructional interactions seem to have been most influential in shaping these beliefs.
The opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds to interact as part of the curriculum is an important means of promoting positive attitudes toward diversity in educational and social environments.