Shaping Pathways from Community College to Medical School: Examining the Validating Perspectives of Academic Advisors and Counselors

Kristin I. McCann, Sunny Nakae, Lorenzo D. Baber, Clare Signorelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The negative correlation of community college enrollment and medical school admission (U.S.) is well documented in the literature. U.S. medical schools face challenges in recruiting diverse applicants, and community college students are often overlooked. This oversight is perplexing, as community colleges generally support a higher percentage of racially and socioeconomically diverse students compared to four-year institutions. This exploratory, qualitative research study addresses systemic barriers for pathways to U.S. allopathic medical school admission through the voices and experiences of community college advisors and counselors (n = 14) who work with pre-health student populations. Using validation theory to uncover the experiences of pre-health advisors and counselors, these primary themes emerged: (a) participants’ high capacity for and interest in serving as “validating agents” for medical school pathways; (b) common structural challenges to enact roles as validating agents for medical school pathways; and (c) key “supportive opportunities” for validating medical school pathways. Validation theory posits benefits from “validating agents” who enact supportive actions that foster academic and interpersonal support for others such as students. We argue that advisors and counselors in this study had the capacity to serve as validating agents for their students’ careers. Implications from this study include the importance of mentorship from four-year institutions, the potential for impactful partnerships between medical schools and community colleges, and the call to action among medical school admissions officers and leaders to view community college students from an asset- versus deficit-based lens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunity College Journal of Research and Practice
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


Dive into the research topics of 'Shaping Pathways from Community College to Medical School: Examining the Validating Perspectives of Academic Advisors and Counselors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this