Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
In their recent analysis of the outcomes of medical school enroll ment growth, Shipman and colleagues1 report the percentages of medical students who plan to practice in under served areas or work mainly with minorities. More than three-fourths of medical students in 2009–2011 were either undecided on this issue or did not plan to practice in underserved areas or work with minorities.1 This was true even in the newest medical schools, some of which were founded with mission statements supporting service of underserved or minority patients.1 Could it be that students do not have enough exposure during medical school to underrepresented in medicine minority (URMM) faculty, who are uniquely positioned to teach students about serving those populations?
URMM faculty in academic health centers typically take care of underserved and minority patients.2 They are known to have challenges in the areas of research and scholarship in the academic setting.3 URMM faculty suffer from lack of mentors, isolation, racism, lack of advisement and support, and low institutional expectations.4 There are fewer numbers of URMM faculty at the associate and full professor ranks as well as limited numbers in senior leadership in U.S. medical schools.5 All of these factors lead to low numbers of URMM faculty, and thus limit URMM and non-URMM students’ exposure to their experiences and perspectives. This may explain why so many students are unsure or have decided against working with minority or underserved groups. Increasing numbers of URMM faculty by addressing the problems they face may not solve all of the problems in this area, but it is certainly a good start. If students see successful faculty members working with underserved and minority patients, perhaps they would commit earlier to these service missions and find joy and satisfaction in working with the same.
Kendall M. Campbell, MD
Associate professor and codirector, Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida; Kendall.email@example.com.
José E. Rodríguez, MD
Associate professor and codirector, Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida.
1. Shipman SA, Jones KC, Erikson CE, Sandberg SF. Exploring the workforce implications of a decade of medical school expansion: Variations in medical school growth and changes in student characteristics and career plans. Acad Med. 2013;88:1904–1912
2. Richert A, Campbell K, Rodríguez J, Borowsky IW, Parikh R, Colwell A. ACU workforce column: Expanding and supporting the health care workforce. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013;24:1423–1431
3. Campbell KM. A letter to the editor: Under-represented minority faculty in academic medical centers. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013;24:viii–ix
4. Pololi L, Cooper LA, Carr P. Race, disadvantage and faculty experiences in academic medicine. J Gen Intern Med. 2010;25:1363–1369
5. Guevara J, Adanga E, Avakame E, Carthon M. Minority faculty development programs and underrepresented minority faculty representation at US medical schools. JAMA. 2013;310:8