AAMC Policies Regarding the Collection, Use, and Dissemination of Medical Student and Applicant Data

The AAMC policies to prevent the exposure of truly confidential personal data without the permission of the individual involved, to limit the distribution of sensitive data to those situations which require it.

The AAMC recognizes its responsibility to treat with care the information it collects about individuals involved in medical education, and to respect their privacy relative to sensitive data concerning them. To meet this obligation, the Association has developed policies to prevent the exposure of truly confidential personal data without the permission of the individual involved, to limit the distribution of sensitive data to those situations which require it, and to permit distribution of non-sensitive, directory information wherever a useful purpose can be served. Personal data may include names, identification numbers, contact information, academic records, and other biographical information. At any time during a current application year, an applicant may provide name changes and updated contact information.

We disclose, of course, information provided in a medical school application to the schools to which the applicant designates the information to be sent. We also circulate the names of applicants accepted to each school to every other school after all deadlines have passed but before classes have begun. We do that upon authorization by each school, in order to facilitate an orderly process for schools to resolve cases of applicants with multiple acceptances.

Medical schools provide information to us about the entrance, dismissal, transfer, withdrawal, and graduation of students. Such information permits us to maintain accurate records of the number of enrolled students and their mobility and allows schools to fulfill requirements of accrediting bodies.

We publish information on medical school applicants and students in the form of aggregate statistics, such as the tables found in Medical School Admission Requirements (MSAR) and other AAMC annual publications. We consider certain information on medical students and applicants to be directory information, for example, the names of students attending and graduating from each medical school, and the year of graduation. Except for such directory information and communications with the schools as a part of the application and record-keeping processes, we do not normally share information about individual students with anyone in a way that would permit individual identification.

We allow two exceptions to the above-stated policy: 1) exchanges with certifying boards, licensing bodies, and other organizations involved in medical education to ensure that credentials are attributed to the proper person, and 2) release of applicant data to undergraduate institutions. To facilitate the credentialing process, we sometimes exchange information on birth date and social security number with those organizations to accompany directory information. We conduct these exchanges on a confidential basis and in a way that prevents a permanent transfer of this information to the recipient organization. In addition, upon permission of the applicant, the AAMC may share any applicant data to undergraduate institutions s/he has attended, to assist these institutions in the pre-medical advising process.

We do not sell mailing lists, e-mail addresses, or other contact information on medical students or applicants to commercial vendors. However, we do enter into arrangements with commercial and non-commercial firms to verify that someone is a medical student, in order to establish eligibility for products or services that the student has sought.

We use data submitted as part of an application to medical school in analyses aimed at improving the quality of our products and services. We also use these data to support worthwhile research projects that help to inform policy in medical education. We support or conduct such research only after an independent institutional review board reviews the research proposal and establishes that the rights of students or applicants are safeguarded.

On occasion, we agree to support researchers outside of the Association who are interested in contacting medical students or applicants for the purpose of surveying them on issues that are important to medical education. We do this infrequently, and only by notifying the student or applicant by e-mail of the opportunities to participate in such research. We do not provide the e-mail addresses of students or applicants directly to these researchers.

We last updated our privacy policy on December 20, 2004. If we ever change our policy, we will post any changes on this page so that you are always aware of the information that we collect and how we use it. If you have any questions about these policies or procedures, please contact us at privacy@aamc.org.

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