When Mark Schuster was a medical student, he served on the admissions committee. He recalls interviewing a particularly well qualified candidate and rating him with perfect scores. After the interview, he was surprised to compare notes with a faculty member who had given the applicant very low marks. Curious what flaw he had missed, Schuster listened as the interviewer explained he just didn’t feel “comfortable” with the applicant.
Stellar as he was, the student was also an effeminate man. Schuster recalls this incident and others that occurred on his way to becoming chief of general pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Boston. Since his training, medical schools have become more visible in their support for LGBT students and diversity. At the same time, decisions still get made in small committee meetings far from public view. Training in unconscious bias may help search committees and admissions deans become more aware of submerged prejudices that have overt consequences.