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Minority Faculty Voices on Diversity in Academic Medicine: Perspectives From One School

2008 | Academic Medicine | Download

Purpose
To examine the perceptions and experiences of ethnic minority faculty at University of California–San Francisco regarding racial and ethnic diversity in academic medicine, in light of a constitutional measure outlawing race- and genderbased affirmative action programs by public universities in California.

Method
In 2005, underrepresented minority faculty in the School of Medicine at University of California–San Francisco were individually interviewed to explore three topics: participants’ experiences as minorities, perspectives on diversity and discrimination in academic medicine, and recommendations for improvement. Interviews were tape-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and subsequently coded using principles of qualitative, text-based analysis in a four-stage review process.

Results
Thirty-six minority faculty (15 assistant professors, 11 associate professors, and 10 full professors) participated, representing diversity across specialties, faculty rank, gender, and race/ethnicity. Seventeen were African American, 16 were Latino, and 3 were Asian. Twenty participants were women. Investigators identified four major themes: (1) choosing to participate in diversityrelated activities, driven by personal commitment and institutional pressure, (2) the gap between intention and implementation of institutional efforts to increase diversity, (3) detecting and reacting to discrimination, and (4) a need for a multifaceted approach to mentorship, given few available minority mentors.

Conclusions
Minority faculty are an excellent resource for identifying strategies to improve diversity in academic medicine. Participants emphasized the strong association between effective mentorship and career satisfaction, and many delineated unique mentoring needs of minority faculty that persist throughout academic ranks. Findings have direct application to future institutional policies in recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty.

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Authors:

Megan R. Mahoney, MD, Elisabeth Wilson, MD, MPH, Kara L. Odom, MD, MPH, Loma Flowers, MD, and Shelley R. Adler, PhD