Persons denied admission to medical schools: A case of blocked career choice

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This study followed the career paths of a cross-national sample of 9123 students refused admission to the 1966-1967 entering class in U.S. medical schools. Such individuals are, at least temporarily, prevented from continuing formal training toward becoming physicians and must then examine various alternative occupations in health, or other, areas. The sample of rejectees was stratified by geographic region and by sex. Data were gathered using a mailed, self-administered questionnaire which covered the respondent's personal and academic background, sources of influence in career choice, perceptions of the rejection and variables affecting ultimate career choices. Hypotheses were developed relating academic ability and performance, professorial encouragement, expectancy of acceptance and perceived reasons for rejection to likelihood of persistence in reapplication and subsequent career decisions. Fifty-two per cent of the sample entered fields unrelated to health and medical care and almost half did not even consider a different health career upon rejection. Moreover, the rejectees reported a substantial lack of knowledge about different health occupations and an absence of advice from professors and academic councelors. While females had relatively better grades and test scores, they tended to view their rejection as "fair" and were less likely than males to reapply, to hold positive self-perceptions and to choose careers with higher educational requirements and prestige. Suprisingly, male persisters (12 of whom ultimately became physicians) were those who reported difficulty with the hard sciences, achieved lower grades, received less encouragement from instructors to continue study, expected acceptance and attributed rejection to factors outside themselves. © 1975.




Becker, M. H., & Katatsky, M. E. (1975). Persons denied admission to medical schools: A case of blocked career choice. Social Science and Medicine, 9(6), 333–338.

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