Perspectives of Historically Black College and University Advisors to Premedical Students during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Study

Jasmine Weiss, Louisa Holaday, Danya Keene, Ngozi D. Akingbesote, Lilanthi Balasuriya, Mona Sharifi, Darin Latimore, Inginia Genao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Importance: Black students remain underrepresented in medicine despite national efforts to increase diversity in the physician workforce. Historically Black College and University (HBCU) students play a vital role in increasing representation in the workforce. Currently, there is a paucity of literature understanding the impact of COVID-19 on premedical students from HBCUs. Understanding the adverse impact of the pandemic on HBCU students is essential to inform strategies that promote holistic medical school admissions and increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in the medical workforce. Objective: To explore premedical advisors' perspectives on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on HBCU premedical students pursuing admission to medical school. Design, Setting, and Participants: In this qualitative study, semistructured interviews of HBCU premedical advisors were performed from March 2020 to March 2021. One-on-one interviews were conducted with 21 advisors with a depth of experience as advisors, varied educational backgrounds, and diverse geographic representation. Data analysis was performed from March 2021 to December 2021. Main Outcomes and Measures: The experiences of HBCU premedical students during the COVID-19 pandemic from the perspective of the premedical advisor. Results: Among the 21 participants, 13 (62%) were female, 15 (71%) were Black or African American, 11 (52%) had a doctorate degree, and 7 (33%) had more than 10 years of experience as advisors. Participants described 3 major themes: (1) balancing academic responsibilities with family demands; (2) distraction, disruption, and isolation in the virtual learning environment; and (3) harmful impact of new stressors for HBCU applicants in the medical school admissions process. Conclusions and Relevance: In this qualitative study of HBCU advisors to premedical students, advisors described how the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected undergraduate HBCU premedical students; students faced family hardships, challenges with virtual learning, and uncertainty in the medical school admissions process. These findings suggest that medical schools should continue to create direct interventions to address the challenges that HBCU students faced during the height of the pandemic and as longitudinal consequences of the pandemic. Addressing these issues may improve physician workforce representation and promote more equitable patient care for underserved communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and other health disparities..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2238563
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 21 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine(all)


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