No Progress Over the Past Decade in Diversifying Surgical Faculty at U.S. Medical Schools

In a new study, senior author Oluwadamilola M. Fayanju, an associate professor of surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and her colleagues found that little progress has been made in diversifying medical school surgical faculty in the past decade. They also found that medical schools with more diverse surgical faculty had greater racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in their medical students.

Researchers used data from 140 U.S. medical schools to assess trends from 2011 to 2020 in racial/ethnic and gender representation among surgical faculty and medical students. They focused on groups known to be underrepresented in medicine, including Black or African American; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish Origin; and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. They found that diversity was greater among medical students than among faculty. The data showed that faculty from all underrepresented groups remained unchanged at about 11 percent.

The researchers also found that medical schools with more faculty from underrepresented groups had a great number of students from these groups. Therefore, the results suggest that by recruiting and retaining faculty from underrepresented groups, medical schools may be able to improve student diversity and produce a greater number of physicians from underrepresented groups in the future.

Dr. Fayanju received a bachelor’s degree in history and science and a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University. She earned her medical doctorate and a master of population health sciences degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

The full study, “Trends in Racial, Ethnic, and Sex Representation Among Surgical Faculty Members and Medical Students in the US, 2011-2020,” was published on the website of the journal JAMA Surgery. It may be accessed here.

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