Mental health of medical school applicants: the role of the admissions committee

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Abstract

This study was of the role of admissions committees as it relates to the mental health of applicants. Two-part questionnaires were sent to 115 medical schools. The first part explored the composition of the committee. In most schools the dean selected the members, attempting to obtain equal representation from clinical and basic science departments; most of the schools had one or more psychiatrists on the committee. The second part focused on the policy for applicants with former mental health problems. Over one-third of the committees asked about previous or present mental illness or therapy. Ninety percent of the schools had no policy or guidelines for using such information; instead, most relied on psychiatric interview or outside reports in making admissions decisions. The impact of federal legislation regarding the handicapped on admissions procedures is discussed. Since more students with previous or current psychiatric problems may be admitted, schools must be prepared to respond to their needs as fully as they now respond to other medical problems.

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