Differential attainment (DA) is a term used to describe differences in the average performance of different groups with and without protected characteristics (Mountfield-Zimdars et al, 2015). The UK Equality Act (2010) makes it unlawful to discriminate against people based on a protected characteristic.
We need to address this as DA suggests we may not be getting the best out of our diverse workforce, which is particularly problematic when the state of the workforce directly affects the health of the nation (Woolf et al, 2016).
Differential attainment has been recognised as a challenge for medical professionals and educators since the 1990s, and has been observed in both undergraduate and postgraduate contexts.
In broad terms, across ARCP, recruitment and exams, the following groups tend to perform less well:
- older age groups
- Black, Asian and minority ethnic
- international medical graduates (IMG).
Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates are less likely to be accepted onto specialty training programmes (72% versus 81%) (Woolf et al, 2016).
- The average postgraduate exam pass rate for all UK medical graduates is 71%.
- This rises to 75.8% for those who are white
- this falls to 63.2% for UK Black and Asian minority ethnic medical graduates
- this falls to 41.4% for IMGs (Woolf et al, 2016).