Despite Diversity Pushes, Minority Faculty Underrepresented in Medical Schools

Underrepresented minority faculty increased just 1.2 percentage points in 10 years.

A new study finds diversity initiatives in medical schools had little effect on increasing the representation of certain minority faculty members.
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Despite efforts in many medical schools across the country to increase the representation of minority faculty, those individuals are still disproportionately underrepresented, according to a study released by the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Tuesday.

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Between 2000 and 2010, the overall number of underrepresented minority faculty at medical schools across the country increased from 6.8 percent to 8 percent, but those faculty were still less likely to be promoted, less likely to hold senior faculty and administrative positions, and less likely to receive research awards from the National Institutes of Health, according to the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Minority physicians and scientists have been inadequately represented among medical school faculty when compared with their representation in the U.S. population," the study says. "Although it is clear that efforts to enhance diversity and inclusion are increasing, it is not clear whether minority faculty development programs are effective in general at enhancing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty."

The researchers, led by James Guevara, an attending physician at the Philadelphia hospital, defined underrepresented minority faculty as those who self-reported themselves to be African-American, Hispanic, Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

The team analyzed the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster for full-time faculty at schools throughout the United States. Of 124 eligible schools, more than a quarter had minority faculty development programs in 2010, but such programs were not associated with a higher representation of minority faculty, recruitment or promotion, according to the study.

The study also found that the number of newly hired faculty who self-reported as an underrepresented minority increased from 9.4 percent in 2000 to 12.1 percent in 2010. During that time, the number of Hispanic faculty members also increased from 3.6 percent to 4.3 percent, while the number of African-American faculty members increased from 3.2 percent to 3.4 percent.

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But the authors said the increases are still relatively small, when comparing the representation of these medical school faculty members to the general population. Growth of these underrepresented minority groups in the general population, the authors write, increased by 30 percent by 2010, far outpacing the growth in medical school faculty members.

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