Sneak Peek from the September Issue: Underrepresented in Medicine Minority Faculty Experience

Later this month, Academic Medicine will post the published ahead-of-print articles from the September 2013 issue. To tide you over until then, here’s a preview of a research report from Linda H. Pololi, MD and colleagues:

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

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



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.


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.


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 relatedness/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. 


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 relatedness might lead to discouragement with academic medicine.

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  1. Kemi
    July 18, 2013 at 8:10 PM

    I agree, from my experiences many underrepresented minorities start off with high aspirations for academic medicine but the isolation and lack of mentorship may discourage them from maintaining those aspirations and discourage minority trainees behind them from doing so. What a cycle to be broken!

  2. Kemi
    July 19, 2013 at 9:21 AM

    It is also true that more minorities engage in disparities research. The more an institution engages in such research, the more an institution values the commitment to ending health disparities, and thus, the more attractive the institution appears to prospective minority applicants at the premedical, medical, resident, and faculty levels.

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