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Ethnic Diversity Remains Scarce in Academic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Butler, Paris D. M.D., M.P.H.; Britt, L D. M.D., M.P.H.; Longaker, Michael T. M.D., M.B.A.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: May 2009 - Volume 123 - Issue 5 - p 1618-1627
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3181a07610
Special Topic

Background: Plastic surgery has been dedicated to advancing academic surgery in education, research, innovation, and patient care. Thus, as U.S. health care disparities persist, it would be befitting for plastic surgery to assume the lead in alleviating these disparities. As part of a multifaceted approach to ameliorate health care disparities, increasing diversity in the health care workforce will be imperative. Investigating the demographics of the U.S. plastic surgery residents and faculty can bring attention to a deficit that, if corrected, could benefit the field and improve the entire health care system.

Methods: Medical students, plastic surgery residents/fellows, and plastic surgery faculty demographic information from 1966 to 2006 was analyzed from the Association of American Medical Colleges’ data files.

Results: Caucasians encompass 68.7 percent of U.S. plastic surgery residents/fellows, while Asian-, African-, and Latino-Americans encompass 20.9, 3.7, and 6.2 percent, respectively. Caucasians comprise 74.9 percent of academic plastic surgeons, while Asian-, African-, and Latino-Americans comprise 10.9, 1.4, and 3.6 percent, respectively. Caucasians constitute 82.0 percent of tenured full professors, while Asian-, African-, and Latino-Americans constitute 4.9, 1.6, and 4.9 percent, respectively. In 2004, African-Americans and Latino-Americans comprised 3.6 percent and 5.7 percent of all U.S. plastic surgeons, but only 1.5 percent and 4.9 percent of plastic academicians, respectively.

Conclusions: Over the last 40 years, plastic surgery has been ineffective in adequately increasing the number of minority residents and faculty. Expanding the number of minority academic plastic surgeons could establish a health care environment more accommodating to minority patients, increase studies highlighting minority health needs, and provide additional role models and mentors.

Stanford, Calif.; and Charlottesville and Norfolk, Va.

From the Department of Surgery, Stanford University; Department of Surgery, University of Virginia School of Medicine; and Department of Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Received for publication May 19, 2008; accepted September 29, 2008.

Disclosure: None of the authors has any relevant financial relationships with any commercial interests as they pertain to this article.

Paris D. Butler, M.D., M.P.H., Department of Surgery, Stanford University, 257 Campus Drive, RM 110, Stanford, Calif. 94305,

©2009American Society of Plastic Surgeons