TUESDAY, Aug. 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Medical school diversity pathway programs were substantially disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published online Aug. 29 in JAMA Network Open.

Sonal Batra, M.D., from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues examined changes in medical school pathway programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 medical school pathway program administrators and academic leaders of U.S. allopathic and osteopathic medical schools.

The researchers found value in community partnerships for sustaining programming, and they found psychosocial support was important for mediating students’ mental health challenges due to COVID-19 and remote learning. In a survey of 112 schools, 94.6 percent had been sponsoring or assisting with pathway programs during the COVID-19 pandemic, but 39.6 percent had reduced pathway programs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the previous year. Compared with older student groups, program cancellations were more likely to be reported in elementary school-aged students (50.0 percent decrease in programming) and middle school-aged students (32.6 percent decrease).

“Ongoing and flexible supports may be needed to sustain these programs,” the authors write. “These findings are timely given recent investments in equity-focused programs to diversify the health workforce.”

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