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Racial and Ethnic Minority Medical Students’ Perceptions of and Interest in Careers in Academic Medicine

Sánchez, J.P. MD, MPH; Peters, Lutheria MPH; Lee-Rey, Elizabeth MD, MPH; Strelnick, Hal MD; Garrison, Gwen PhD; Zhang, Kehua PhD; Spencer, Dennis PhD; Ortega, Gezzer MD, MPH; Yehia, Baligh MD, MPP, MSHP; Berlin, Anne MA; Castillo-Page, Laura PhD

doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e31829f87a7
Research Reports

Purpose To describe diverse medical students’ perceptions of and interest in careers in academic medicine.

Method In 2010, the authors invited students attending three national medical student conferences to respond to a survey and participate in six focus groups. The authors identified trends in data through bivariate analyses of the quantitative dataset and using a grounded theory approach in their analysis of focus group transcripts.

Results The 601 survey respondents represented 103 U.S. medical schools. The majority (72%) were in their first or second year; 34% were black and 17% were Hispanic. Many respondents (64%) expressed interest in careers in academic medicine; teaching and research were viewed as positive influences on that interest. However, black and Hispanic respondents felt they would have a harder time succeeding in academia. The 73 focus group participants (25% black, 29% Hispanic) described individual- and institutional-level challenges to academic medicine careers and offered recommendations. They desired deliberate and coordinated exposure to academic career paths, research training, clarification of the promotion process, mentorship, protected time for faculty to provide teaching and research training, and an enhanced infrastructure to support diversity and inclusion.

Conclusions Medical students expressed an early interest in academic medicine but lacked clarity about the career path. Black and Hispanic students’ perceptions of having greater difficulty succeeding in academia may be an obstacle to engaging them in the prospective pool of academicians. Strategic and dedicated institutional resources are needed to encourage racial and ethnic minority medical students to explore careers in academic medicine.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

Dr. Sánchez is instructor, Department of Emergency Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York.

Ms. Peters is research analyst, Diversity Policy and Programs, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Dr. Lee-Rey is assistant professor, Department of Family and Social Medicine, and codirector, Hispanic Center of Excellence, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York.

Dr. Strelnick is director, Hispanic Center of Excellence, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, Bronx, New York.

Dr. Garrison is senior vice president for educational research, American Dental Education Association, Washington, DC.

Dr. Zhang is senior research analyst, Diversity Policy and Programs, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Dr. Spencer is a biomedical fellow, Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan-Kettering Tri-Institutional MD-PhD Program, Rockefeller University, New York, New York.

Dr. Ortega is a second-year resident, Department of Surgery, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC.

Dr. Yehia is instructor, Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Ms. Berlin is research analyst, Diversity Policy and Programs, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Dr. Castillo-Page is senior director, Diversity Policy and Programs and Organizational Capacity Building Portfolio, Association of American Medical Colleges, Washington, DC.

Funding/Support: This project was supported by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the HRSA Hispanic Center of Excellence at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (D3EHP16488), the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (1K07 HL085472, “Reducing Health Inequalities through Medical Education” [2006–2011, Lee-Rey]) and the AAMC. Dr. Yehia was supported by the National Institutes of Health (K23-MH097647-01A1).

Other disclosures: None.

Ethical approval: American Institute of Research (EX00133) and Montefiore Medical Center (IRB Protocol # 10-02-032E).

Previous presentations: The ideas and part of the data included in this paper were presented at the Group on Regional Medical Campuses and Group on Diversity and Inclusion 2011 Spring Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 2011.

Supplemental digital content for this article is available at http://links.lww.com/ACADMED/A144.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Sánchez, Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians Initiative, Hispanic Center of Excellence, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave., Mazer 4th Floor, Bronx, NY 10461; telephone: (718) 430-2792; e-mail: john.sanchez@einstein.yu.edu.

© 2013 by the Association of American Medical Colleges