Differential attainment has been widely observed in United Kingdom (UK) medical training, with minority ethnicity being associated with reduced success in recruitment and progression through training. Specialty training in Public Health in the UK recruits candidates with medical as well as non-medical backgrounds. At the request of the UK Faculty of Public Health and Health Education England, we sought to examine whether differential attainment may or may not be occurring in the multi-stage recruitment process.
We analysed 3 years of national recruitment data into Public Health specialty training to identify whether demographic characteristics including age, sex, ethnicity and professional background were associated with successful recruitment.
In total 2252 applications between 2018 and 2020 were analysed. Candidates who were older, Asian, black or from backgrounds other than medicine were significantly less likely to progress from the psychometric testing stage than the white British group. Fewer statistically significant differences were observed at the final stage of recruitment involving interviews, group work and a written task.
The findings suggest that older candidates those from some ethnic minority backgrounds and those from backgrounds other than medicine are disadvantaged by the current recruitment process, with differential attainment associated with the psychometric testing stage.