The Barriers to Medical School for DACA Students Continue

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As a previously undocumented student with aspirations of entering medical school, I personally understand the barriers that are present for “Dreamers.” Throughout my undergraduate education, I worked hard, hoping that if I became a permanent resident, I would be able to pursue my dreams and apply to medical school. As a junior at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, I finally approached my prehealth advisor because my family was very close to receiving our permanent residency. I also had been covered legally under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) for about two years at this point. My advisor asked why it took me so long to speak with him about medical school, and when I responded that I was not able to apply because of my legal status, he nodded his head in agreement.
I was so close to giving up on my dreams because I had no idea that even with DACA there was an opportunity for me to apply to medical school. I was lucky that I became a permanent resident before graduating, so I was able to apply the traditional way, but there are still many DACA students who do not know that they too have a path to medical school. I believe both undergraduate institutions and medical schools across the country must not only begin accepting DACA students but also advertising that even DACA students have an opportunity to apply and enter medical school.
Dr. Balderas-Medina Anaya and coauthors1 suggest that medical schools should determine whether they will accept DACA student applications and then should make it well known to the medical school admissions staff. They also recommend the creation of a list of U.S. schools that accept DACA students. Currently, a search for “deferred action” on the American Medical College Application Service Web site provides a link for a current list of medical schools accepting DACA students, but many of these schools have yet to provide that information on their own Web sites. This includes my current institution, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. How do we resolve this? I believe more light needs to be shed on this issue, and that admissions committee members must take an active role in providing this information to all staff members involved in the recruitment and admissions process.
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