Selection and lottery in medical school admissions: who gains and who loses?

A Wouters, G Croiset, RA Kusurkar

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Concerns related to fairness of medical school admissions through selection have led some scholars to consider selection as an expensive lottery and suggest that lottery may be fairer. This paper considers the issue of selection versus lottery from the perspectives of three groups of stakeholders: 1) applicants, 2) medical schools, and 3) society. This paper contributes to the discussion by addressing advantages and disadvantages of the use of selection and lottery for these stakeholder groups, grounded in the findings from research. Themes that are discussed are reliability and validity issues, perceived influence on selection outcomes and student uptake, effects on student diversity, financial costs, impact on rejected applicants, transparency, and strategic behaviour. For each stakeholder group both lottery and selection yield a combination of advantages and disadvantages, which implies that none of the currently available admissions strategies completely fulfils stakeholders’ needs. Research indicates that selection yields only small gains compared to a lottery procedure, while the student diversity, necessary for serving the increasingly diverse patient population, may be compromised. We argue that society’s needs should drive admissions policies rather than institutional gains, which means that until a selection procedure is developed that does not disadvantage certain types of students, a lottery procedure should be preferred.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4-Dec-2018
Externally publishedYes

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