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Effects of Perceptions and Mentorship on Pursuing a Career in Academic Medicine in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Cain, Joanna M. MD; Schulkin, Jay PhD; Parisi, Valerie MD; Power, Michael L. PhD; Holzman, Gerald B. MD; Williams, Sterling MD

Academic Medicine:
Educating Physicians: Research Reports
Abstract

Purpose: To understand the perceptions of residents and Fellows in obstetrics and gynecology about the impacts of race or ethnicity, gender, and mentorship experiences on pursuing careers in academic medicine.

Method: Two surveys were administered: one to a sample of 2,000 Fellows of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and one to the 4,814 obstetrics and gynecology residents taking the 1998 in-training examination. The questionnaires asked about demographics, perceptions about careers in academic medicine, and residents' experiences with mentorship.

Results: Response rates were 96.8% for residents and 40.6% for Fellows. Of the residents, 26.1% indicated they would not consider a career in academic medicine. First-year women residents were more inclined to pursue careers in academic medicine than were first-year men (p = .042), but their interest declined during residency. Women residents (43%)—especially minorities—felt that men were mentored and recruited more for faculty positions, while men (38%) felt that women were mentored and recruited more. Fellows' reports of recruitment did not differ by gender. Most white residents did not perceive racial or ethnic bias in mentoring or recruiting, while most non-white residents did. Almost one third of non-white women residents felt that supervisors were more likely to condescend to women and minority individuals.

Conclusions: It is likely that neither men nor women residents in obstetrics and gynecology receive adequate mentorship for careers in academic medicine. Perceptions of bias are a serious barrier to developing racial, ethnic, and gender diversity in leadership positions.

Author Information

Dr. Cain is professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, Hershey. Dr. Schulkin is director of research; Dr. Power is research associate, Department of Research; and Dr. Holzman is director of education, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Washington, DC. Dr. Parisi is professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine, Chapel Hill. Dr. Williams is professor and chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Kansas School of Medicine, Kansas City.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Dr. Cain, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, H103, MS Hershey Medical Center, Box 850, Hershey, PA 17033; telephone: (717) 531-4922.

© 2001 Association of American Medical Colleges