Significant Improvement in Academic Medical Leadership Diversity, Study Finds

Significant Improvement in Academic Medical Leadership Diversity, Study Finds

A study published in JAMA Network Open reveals that some specialties in the medical field have made significant improvements in academic medical leadership diversity since 2007. The study, conducted by researchers from Henry Ford Health in Detroit, examined the changes in diversity in academic medical leadership from 2007 to 2019.

The researchers utilized specialized reports from the Association of American Medical Colleges for four primary care specialties, including internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN), as well as four surgical specialties, including orthopedic, neurologic, otolaryngology, and general surgery.

The findings show that only internal medicine and general surgery experienced significant increases in self-identified minority representation in chairperson positions. In internal medicine, there was a 90 percent increase, from 13.0 percent in 2007 to 24.7 percent in 2019, while general surgery saw a 96 percent increase, from 13.5 percent in 2007 to 26.5 percent in 2019.

In terms of gender diversity, several specialties also saw significant increases in female representation. Family medicine had a 107.4 percent increase, pediatrics had an 83.1 percent increase, OB/GYN had a 53.2 percent increase, orthopedic surgery had a 4.1 percentage point increase, and general surgery had a remarkable 226.9 percent increase.

The study highlights the lower diversity in leadership positions within surgical specialties compared to the average diversity of all residency programs. However, primary care specialties exhibited similar or increased diversity.

The authors of the study recommend several strategies to improve academic medical leadership diversity. These include publishing efforts and outcomes of diversity representation, incorporating representative demographics in leadership selection committees, and actively promoting the importance of diversity throughout the selection process.

This study sheds light on the progress made in enhancing diversity within academic medical leadership in certain specialties over the past decade. It also emphasizes the need for continued efforts and initiatives to further improve representation and inclusivity within the field.

Austin M. Meadows et al, Racial, Ethnic, and Sex Diversity in Academic Medical Leadership, JAMA Network Open (2023). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.35529

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