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Minority Faculty Voices on Diversity in Academic Medicine: Perspectives From One School

Mahoney, Megan R. MD; Wilson, Elisabeth MD, MPH; Odom, Kara L. MD, MPH; Flowers, Loma MD; Adler, Shelley R. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31817ec002
Diversity

Purpose: To examine the perceptions and experiences of ethnic minority faculty at University of California–San Francisco regarding racial and ethnic diversity in academic medicine, in light of a constitutional measure outlawing race- and gender-based affirmative action programs by public universities in California.

Method: In 2005, underrepresented minority faculty in the School of Medicine at University of California–San Francisco were individually interviewed to explore three topics: participants’ experiences as minorities, perspectives on diversity and discrimination in academic medicine, and recommendations for improvement. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and subsequently coded using principles of qualitative, text-based analysis in a four-stage review process.

Results: Thirty-six minority faculty (15 assistant professors, 11 associate professors, and 10 full professors) participated, representing diversity across specialties, faculty rank, gender, and race/ethnicity. Seventeen were African American, 16 were Latino, and 3 were Asian. Twenty participants were women. Investigators identified four major themes: (1) choosing to participate in diversity-related activities, driven by personal commitment and institutional pressure, (2) the gap between intention and implementation of institutional efforts to increase diversity, (3) detecting and reacting to discrimination, and (4) a need for a multifaceted approach to mentorship, given few available minority mentors.

Conclusions: Minority faculty are an excellent resource for identifying strategies to improve diversity in academic medicine. Participants emphasized the strong association between effective mentorship and career satisfaction, and many delineated unique mentoring needs of minority faculty that persist throughout academic ranks. Findings have direct application to future institutional policies in recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty.

Dr. Mahoney is assistant clinical professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Wilson is assistant clinical professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Odom was a third-year family medicine resident at the University of California–San Francisco at the time of this study. Currently, she is a fellow at the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars program at the University of California–Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California.

Dr. Flowers is clinical professor of psychiatry, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California; international consultant and mentor in personal and professional development; and president, Equilibrium Dynamics, San Francisco, California.

Dr. Adler is associate professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine and Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California–San Francisco, San Francisco, California.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Mahoney, UCSF Campus Box 1365, San Francisco, CA 94143.

© 2008 Association of American Medical Colleges