“Underrepresentation of Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine: The Need to Enhance the Pipeline and the Pipe”

February 23rd, 2010  |  Published in News

This data-rich Comment in the January, 2010 issue of Gastroenterology by Bishr Omary and AMFDP alum/NAC member Juanita Merchant tackles the issues of the importance of and barriers to diversity within medical school faculties.  A summary is below, but the entire article should be required reading for anyone who cares about this issue.  Read the full text here.

The number of underrepresented minorities (URMs; black or African American,
Hispanic or Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or other
Pacific Islander) among US medical school faculty is markedly low when compared with
their respective percent representation of the US population. Women URMs are doubly
underrepresented, particularly as the academic rank advances from the instructor to the
professor level, and gender discrepancies occur more prominently among white female
faculty. Although the percent of white faculty has decreased over the past 5 years, the low
percentage of black and Hispanic faculty has not changed proportionately. Furthermore,
the 2008–2009 pipeline of URM trainees is unlikely to reverse the current trends.

Several measures are suggested for consideration by medical schools and the National
Institutes of Health, and recommendations that URM faculty and students may wish to
consider are also discussed. The major issues to address include increasing the pipeline of
predoctoral URMs, promoting the success and retention of junior URM faculty, enhancing
the support of senior URM faculty to serve as needed mentors, and building a pool
of URM and non-URM mentors for URM trainees. Therefore, issues pertaining to both
the pipeline and the pipe need to be overcome.