Ethnic and racial diversity in surgical faculty associated with medical student diversity

A recent study characterized racial and ethnic diversity in surgical faculty as “an elusive dream.” In a new study in JAMA Surgery, Oluwadamilola M. Fayanju, associate professor of surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, and colleagues confirm little progress in the past decade, and point out that medical schools with more diverse surgical faculty saw another benefit: greater racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in their medical students.

Four nurses in gowns and masks standing smiling in a row.

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 (URiM), including Black or African American; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish Origin; and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Overall, they found higher proportions of women and underrepresented groups among medical students than faculty. Over the decade, female faculty increased from 19.1% to 24.6%, while the proportion of URiM faculty remained unchanged at about 11%.

When the researchers analyzed these trends, they found that having more URiM surgical faculty in a program was associated with more URiM and female medical students, but having more female faculty was not.

This story is by Christine Weeks and Janet Weiner. Read more at Penn LDI.