Inclusion and diversity within medical education: a focus group study of students' experiences

Anne-Roos Verbree*, Ulviye Isik*, J. J. H. M. Janssen, G Dilaver

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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As patient populations become more diverse, it is imperative that future physicians receive proper training in order to provide the best quality of care. This study examines medical students' perceptions of how prepared they are in dealing with a diverse population and assesses how included and supported the students felt during their studies.

Four semi-structured focus groups were held with medical students across all years of the medical study program of a Dutch university. Focus group transcripts were analyzed thematically.

Students’ experiences could be categorized as follows: (1) (Minority) identities and personal motivations, (2) Understanding of diversity and an inclusive learning environment, (3) Diversity in education, (4) Experiences of exclusion, (5) Experiences of inclusion, and (6) Lack of awareness. The key findings from the focus groups were that students perceived a lack of diversity and awareness in medical education and were convinced of the need to incorporate diversity to a greater extent and were personally motivated to contribute to incorporating diversity in the curriculum. Students also shared exclusion experiences such as stereotypes and prejudices but also some inclusion experiences such as feelings of belonging.

Based on our findings, it is recommended that medical schools incorporate diversity education into their curriculum so that health professionals can provide the best quality of care for their diverse patient populations. This education should also ensure that all students feel included in their medical education program.
Original languageEnglish
Article number61
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Diversity
  • Inclusion
  • Inclusive learning environment
  • Medical curriculum
  • Medical education
  • Sense of belonging
  • Student experience


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