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The Experience of Minority Faculty Who Are Underrepresented in Medicine, at 26 Representative U.S. Medical Schools

Pololi, Linda H. MD; Evans, Arthur T. MD, MPH; Gibbs, Brian K. PhD, MPA; Krupat, Edward PhD; Brennan, Robert T. EdD; Civian, Janet T. EdD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31829eefff
Research Reports

Purpose: A diverse medical school faculty is critical to preparing physicians to provide quality care to an increasingly diverse nation. The authors sought to compare experiences of underrepresented in medicine minority (URMM) faculty with those of non-URMM faculty in a nationally representative sample of medical schools.

Method: In 2007–2009, the authors surveyed a stratified random sample of 4,578 MD and PhD full-time faculty from 26 U.S. medical schools. Multiple regression models were used to test for differences between URMM and other faculty on 12 dimensions of academic culture. Weights were used to adjust for oversampling of URMM and female faculty.

Results: The response rate was 52%, or 2,381 faculty. The analytic sample was 2,218 faculty: 512 (23%) were URMM, and 1,172 (53%) were female, mean age 49 years. Compared with non-URMM faculty, URMM faculty endorsed higher leadership aspirations but reported lower perceptions of relationships/inclusion, gave their institutions lower scores on URMM equity and institutional efforts to improve diversity, and more frequently engaged in disparities research. Twenty-two percent (115) had experienced racial/ethnic discrimination. For both values alignment and institutional change for diversity, URMM faculty at two institutions with high proportions (over 50%) of URMM faculty rated these characteristics significantly higher than their counterparts at traditional institutions.

Conclusions: Encouragingly, for most aspects of academic medicine, the experiences of URMM and non-URMM faculty are similar, but the differences raise important concerns. The combination of higher leadership aspirations with lower feelings of inclusion and relationships might lead to discouragement with academic medicine.

Dr. Pololi is senior scientist and resident scholar, Women’s Studies Research Center, and director, National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C - Change, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.

Dr. Evans is vice chair for faculty development, Department of Medicine, division chief, Hospitalist Medicine, and professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York.

Dr. Gibbs is associate dean for diversity and cultural competence and assistant professor of medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland.

Dr. Krupat is director, Center for Evaluation, Harvard Medical School, and associate professor of psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Brennan is research associate, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts.

Dr. Civian is senior survey analyst, National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C - Change, Women’s Studies Research Center, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts.

Funding/Support: The authors gratefully acknowledge the critical funding support of the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, and Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center. Funding supported the design and conduct of the study; and collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data. Supplemental funds to support data analysis were provided by the U.S. Health and Human Services Office of Public Health and Science, Office on Women’s Health, and Office of Minority Health; National Institutes of Health, Office of Research on Women’s Health; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Health Resources and Services Administration.

Other disclosures: The C - Change Faculty Survey and its items, described in this report, are copyrighted by C - Change, Brandeis University. Please contact cchange@brandeis.edu to use this survey.

Ethical approval: Human subject institutional approvals were obtained from Brandeis and Boston Universities, and the AAMC.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Pololi, National Initiative on Gender, Culture and Leadership in Medicine: C - Change, Brandeis University, 415 South St., Mailstop 079, Waltham, MA 02454-9110; telephone: (781) 736-8120; fax: (781) 736-8117; e-mail: lpololi@brandeis.edu.

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges