Advisor

Birnbaum, Matthew

Committee Member

Guido, Florence M.

Committee Member

Weiler, Spencer

Department

Leadership, Policy and Development

Institution

University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources

Text

Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)

Publisher

University of Northern Colorado

Date Created

5-8-2017

Genre

Thesis

Extent

363 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital

Abstract

The option to identify as disadvantaged in the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) primary application may lead to unclear expectations for applicants. Despite its inception more than a decade ago, there are no published materials containing either a comprehensive definition, or explanation of the role of the Disadvantaged Status in student selection. Research on the Disadvantaged Status is similarly lacking. The purpose of this interpretivist case study was to explore how current students made meaning of the option to identify as disadvantaged when they were applying to medical schools. Through this research I uncovered meanings applicants ascribed to the disadvantaged term, how they determined whether they were disadvantaged, and how they decided whether or not to apply as such. Through open-ended interviews with 15 students at a medical school in the Northeast, document analysis of their AMCAS files, and with a theoretical framework that included symbolic interactionism, social comparison theory, stigma, and impression management, it became clear that deciding whether or not to apply as a disadvantaged applicant in the AMCAS primary application is both complex and fragile. Simply having experienced hardships during childhood was insufficient for many participants in this study to determine whether or not they were disadvantaged or should apply as such. The process of determining whether or not to apply as a disadvantaged applicant was confounded by a myriad of factors represented by the following nine themes: experience with disadvantage, resources, ambiguity, audience, pride, stigma, ethics, right to identify, and impression management. I concluded this dissertation with what I considered to be the most significant implications, in particular, that not all applicants are using the Disadvantaged Status consistently. I made recommendations for staff at the Association of American Medical Colleges, faculty and staff at medical schools and undergraduate institutions, and future applicants. I closed this dissertation with my final thoughts on this research experience.

Degree type

PhD

Degree Name

Doctoral

Language

Englsih

Local Identifiers

Lowrance_unco_0161D_10568

Rights Statement

Copyright belongs to the author.

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