Study examines diversity trends in pediatric population

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The rate of underrepresented women in medicine (URiM) in the pediatric field has increased dramatically, but rates have remained stagnant and declined among black men, according to researchers at UTHealth Houston.

The findings were published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Investigators examined trends in pediatric faculty diversity at academic centers across the country from 2000 to 2020.

“A diverse workforce is a thriving workforce,” said Emma Omoruyi, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics at UTHealth Houston’s McGovern Medical School and corresponding first author of the study. “We know that diversity in academic medicine is important for addressing health disparities and training the next generation. With diversity, physicians are more likely to be sensitive and fully understand the needs of their patients. Our findings show that we are headed in the right direction, but we are not where we want to be. »

Using data from the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster and the United States Census Bureau, researchers surveyed 367,863 professors of pediatrics and found that URiM’s female representation increased from 4.4% in 2000 to 7.8% in 2020 in the pediatric field, but the representation of men, especially black men, has fallen from 1.32% in 2000 to 1.04% in 2020.

“The decline of black men in this field may be related to the starting point of their education. We always talk about systemic racism and diversity in medicine, but when people think of medicine as a career, they should think about what it’s like for these men growing up. Most of the time, these young boys are not in an environment conducive to their development towards the path of medicine. There are so many barriers, once you start thinking about medicine – that’s why I believe we don’t see more men, especially black men, in this field. They are not set up to succeed at a young age, she said.

Omoruyi hopes the results of this study can help raise awareness of the importance of diversity in medicine so that academic institutions across the United States can recruit and retain a diverse pediatric workforce and promote equitable care.

“The diversity of the health workforce is essential for the delivery of culturally effective care that could improve health outcomes, increase access to care, and strengthen the pool of medically trained decision makers and health care leaders. Internally, departments should track their own hiring and be more transparent. On a larger scale, understanding why people don’t come to academic medicine and paying attention to their surroundings can help drive bigger changes down the road,” Omoruyi said.

Other researchers include Colin J. Orr, MD, MPH, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Greg Russell, MS, and Kimberly Montez, MD, MPH, with Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

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