Higher education admission processes emphasize grades, test scores and other extracurricular criteria that predict an applicant’s future success. Most U.S. medical schools also seek a student body that mirrors the diverse demographic in which the trained physicians will practice. Despite this aspiration for diversity, less than 5 percent of U.S. allopathic medical school attendees grow up in households of the lowest quintile of parental income. This underrepresentation has persisted since 1987. One obstacle may be that otherwise qualified students are less fiscally able to participate in volunteerism and other endeavors. Applicants often stand out by volunteering to provide care and services to underserved communities, sometimes on costly medical mission trips. Although volunteering is a noble and great experience, I would argue that an occupation in service industry jobs can lend similarly important lessons and character development to...

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