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Improving the Diversity Climate in Academic Medicine: Faculty Perceptions as a Catalyst for Institutional Change

Price, Eboni G. MD, MPH; Powe, Neil R. MD, MPH, MBA; Kern, David E. MD, MPH; Golden, Sherita Hill MD, MHS; Wand, Gary S. MD; Cooper, Lisa A. MD, MPH

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e3181900f29
Institutional Climate for Faculty
Abstract

Purpose: To assess perceptions of underrepresented minority (URM) and majority faculty physicians regarding an institution’s diversity climate, and to identify potential improvement strategies.

Method: The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of tenure-track physicians at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from June 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005; they measured faculty perceptions of bias in department/division operational activities, professional satisfaction, career networking, mentorship, and intentions to stay in academia, and they examined associations between race/ethnicity and faculty perceptions using multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Among 703 eligible faculty, 352 (50.1%) returned surveys. Fewer than one third of respondents reported experiences of bias in department/division activities; however, URM faculty were less likely than majority faculty to believe faculty recruitment is unbiased (21.1% versus 50.6%, P = .006). A minority of respondents were satisfied with institutional support for professional development. URM faculty were nearly four times less likely than majority faculty to report satisfaction with racial/ethnic diversity (12% versus 47.1%, P = .001) and three times less likely to believe networking included minorities (9.3% versus 32.6%, P = .014). There were no racial/ethnic differences in the quality of mentorship. More than 80% of respondents believed they would be in academic medicine in five years. However, URM faculty were less likely to report they would be at their current institution in five years (42.6% versus 70.5%, P = .004).

Conclusions: Perceptions of the institution’s diversity climate were poor for most physician faculty and were worse for URM faculty, highlighting the need for more transparent and diversity-sensitive recruitment, promotion, and networking policies/practices.

Author Information

Dr. Price is assistant professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, Department of Medicine, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dr. Powe is University Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Kern is professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Golden is associate professor of medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Wand is professor of medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Cooper is professor of medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Cooper, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research, 2024 East Monument Street, Suite 2-500, Baltimore, MD 21287; telephone: (410) 614-3659; fax: (410) 614-0588; e-mail: (lisa.cooper@jhmi.edu).

© 2009 Association of American Medical Colleges