Influence of Affirmative Action Policies on Socio Demographic Profile of Medical Students from a Brazilian University

ABSTRACT Affirmative action policies adopted by University of Campinas (Unicamp) in 2005 entrance exams, added to 2014 modifications, and more recently in 2016, lead to a big profile change of University of Campinas medical students. Therefore, this paper aims to describe academics’ sociodemographic profile, as well as their aspirations in choice of medical career and future specialty. The cross-sectional study included 290 undergraduate years 1, 3 and 6 (Y1, Y3 and Y6) medical students from Unicamp who answered an anonymous questionnaire applied after approval by the Institutional Review Board. Socio demographic data and factors potentially influencing decisions on medical career and specialty choices were analyzed. Data analysis showed a sample composed mostly of white (77.5%), female (63.2%), 20-24 years population, from the State of São Paulo (84.8%) and interior (62.3%). For Y1, there was statistically significant difference for ‘pardo’ (22.6%) – it can be translated as brown – and black (6.6%) – there wasn’t black in Y3 and Y6 – ethnic groups, public school provenience – both elementary school (42.5%) and high school (73.6%) –, lower maternal schooling (high school, p < 0.001) and lower family income (p < 0.001). Years 3 and 6 majority was composed of white academics (76.7% and 90.3%, respectively), coming from private schools (basic education and high school), with further maternal education (higher education/post-graduation) and bigger average income. The influence factors leading to choice for medical specialty modified (p < 0,001) among graduation years. Y1 students opted more frequently for ‘surgery/orthopedics’ (37.7%), ‘medical clinic/neurology’ (23.6%) and ‘psychiatry’ (11.3%). To Y3, the most desired specialties were ‘medical clinic/neurology’ (40%), ‘surgery/orthopedics’ (13.4%) and ‘obstetrician-gynecologist’ (13.3%). Amongst Y6 undergraduates, the most chosen specialties were ‘medical clinic/neurology’ (24.5%), ‘obstetrician-gynecologist’ (20.2%) and ‘surgery/orthopedics’ (17%). Y1 academics also revealed different aspirations regarding intended future workplace, with larger desire to practice only on SUS or on international programs. In this context, results indicate that Unicamp inclusion policy and its modifications over the years, particularly in 2016 entrance exams, have been effective in broadening access to medical education, such as greater socio demographic, economic and ethnic plurality coupled with variations in reasons for choice of medical career and specialty among graduation years analyzed.