Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Educational Leadership and Policies


Educational Administration

First Advisor

Michelle A. Maher

Second Advisor

Katherine R. Chaddock


The persistence and graduation of Black men in medical college throughout the country is a growing concern in light of the goal of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) to increase medical school graduates 30% by 2015 (AAMC, 2007). Blacks and other racial/ethnic students in medical school complete their M.D.s at disparate rates. The disparity is most evident for Black/African-American medical students at years four and five (AAMC, 2007).

The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore and analyze factors affecting Black male persistence in medical school. The study also explored, through the personal experiences of students, the particular factors that impact their persistence in medical school. A survey (previously piloted for a study of Black males in medical school) was revised and developed by the researcher using concepts from the literature review. Black males enrolled in medical school at four Southern United States peer institutions participated in the study. For the quantitative portion of this mixed methods study, 61 online surveys were returned from the population of Black male medical students who were admitted in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Responses to this questionnaire are presented in percentages, frequencies, and correlations of persistence factors identified in the literature. Twenty-eight participants were interviewed for the qualitative portion of this study. Those interviewed consisted of eight fourth year students, eight third year students, seven third year students, and five second semester first year students.

Several key themes, identified by participants as important and very important factors affecting their persistence, emerged from the study: individual goal commitment, peer influence, informal mentoring and religion/spirituality. All interviewed participants perceived the major factor impacting their persistence was individual motivation and commitment to the goal of earning an M.D.

The study’s findings suggest several recommendations for enhancing Black male persistence in medical school. Medical colleges must consider multiple factors for improving Black male persistence that includes: understanding the impact of individual goal commitment, recognizing the importance of pre college peer influence, creating opportunities for informal mentoring, demonstrating institutional commitment to diversity, and acknowledging the importance of religion and spirituality.