Prior studies have shown a lack of diversity among plastic surgery trainees. The authors evaluate trends in minority representation among applicants to plastic surgery and the correlation with practicing residents, compared to other specialties.
The Association of American Medical Colleges Electronic Residency Application Service provided applicant data for integrated, independent plastic surgery, and other select specialties from 2010 to 2016. Journal of the American Medical Association Graduate Medical Education annual reports and Association of American Medical Colleges graduate student questionnaires provided resident and medical student data. Binomial distribution analysis was used to assess differences in Black, Hispanic, and female proportions of applicants and residents. Best-fit trend lines were compared among groups and specialties.
Women have seen an increase in integrated and independent resident representation (+2.23 percent and +0.7 percent per year, respectively) over the past 7 years, despite a relative decrease in applicants. The proportion of female applicants and residents correlated yearly for all specialties (p > 0.05). Conversely, for all years and all specialties, the Black proportion of applicants was significantly higher than the resident representation of the same year (p < 0.05). Hispanic applicant and resident representation have seen a minimal change.
Female representation among trainees has increased greatly, but there has been a decline in Black representation of integrated plastic surgery residents despite increases in medical school graduates and applicants. The data highlight a discrepancy between the population of applicants and residents suggesting that barriers starting from medical school may contribute to the lack of diversity in plastic surgery.