A professional society of 163,000 physicians, trainees and fellows of internal medicine in the United States is asking medical schools to waive the entrance exam because the COVID-19 pandemic has made testing unmanageable. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The American College of Physicians (ACP) suggests the schools look at applicants holistically – considering factors including grades and experience – and dispense with the Medical College Admission Test – known as the MCAT - for entrance year 2021.
“Applicants have experienced disruptions in taking the MCAT examination, whether due to personal health and safety concerns, vendor-initiated scheduling changes, or difficulties in accessing testing centers,” the ACP stated.
“Furthermore, applicants of color and those from lower socioeconomic groups are disproportionately impacted by factors such as venue changes to distant testing centers. The ACP is concerned that mandatory MCAT testing in the midst of the current public health emergency will increase disparities in career opportunity among people of color and those of lower socioeconomic status,” it added.
COVID-19 has made standardized testing for college entrance exams difficult, at best, because arranging for large groups of students to sit for exams in person increases the odds the disease will be shared. The germs are spread through droplets emitted during breathing, sneezing and coughing. It can also be contracted by touching a surface on which it has landed and then touching one’s face, where it makes its way to the eyes, nose or mouth.
Several universities, including most of the top schools in the U.S., have waived the testing requirement for standard entrance exams during the pandemic.
“ACP supports the needs of learners as they pursue entry into medical school in the midst of the current COVID-19 public health emergency,” said Dr. Jacqueline W. Fincher, the group’s president. “Now more than ever, during these challenging times facing health care, we need to help reduce barriers for students who seek to continue their education and training on a path to join the physician workforce and medical community, which continues to fulfill a vital need in our country.”
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the U.S. with members in more than 145 countries worldwide, according to its website.