Has equity within medical school enrollment and along the academic pipeline, especially among elite surgical specialties such as otolaryngology, mirrored the currently rising number of health disparities disproportionately affecting minority communities?
Explore This IssueSeptember 2021
Significant disparities exist in medical school enrollment for minority students and achievement of full professorship in otolaryngology, surgery, and internal medicine, most prominently in otolaryngology.
BACKGROUND: Studies show that underrepresented in medicine (URM) physicians are more likely to incorporate care for minority and underserved communities into their practice than their non-URM counterparts. Moreover, URM patients have more positive interactions with physicians with similar backgrounds. However, core surgical specialties suffer from markedly low proportions of URM physicians.
STUDY DESIGN: Population analysis.
SETTING: Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.
SYNOPSIS: Researchers sought to assess racial and ethnic differences across each stage of the academic medicine trajectory in otolaryngology as compared with internal medicine and general surgery. Their data, based on the Association of American Medical Colleges, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the U.S. Census for 2010 and 2018, were used to assess current otolaryngology, surgery, and internal medicine physician and faculty workforce diversity across each stage of the academic medicine trajectory by race and ethnicity. Descriptive statistics across all constituencies and binomial tests for between-group analysis were used. Findings showed that URM groups, including Black and Hispanic/Latinx medical students, remain underrepresented in medical school when compared with the general U.S. population, at 7.5% and 6.4%, respectively. URM representation decreased along the academic medicine pipeline across all three specialties, most notably within otolaryngology, with 0% Black representation among otolaryngology professors in 2010 and 1.67% in 2018. Authors note that, as the U.S. URM population continues to grow, the critical need for URM physicians to help reduce health disparities increases as well. They suggest use of targeted interventions to address the decline in URM representation between otolaryngology residency applicants and matched residents.
Citation: Tusty M, Flores B, Victor R, et al. The long “race” to diversity in otolaryngology. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2021;164:6-8.