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Collection of articles examines racial, gender issues in academic medicine

March 06, 2017

New research published online by JAMA Internal Medicine examines race and gender issues in academic medicine.

One study by Dowin Boatright, M.D., M.B.A., of the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and coauthors examined the association between the race/ethnicity of medical students and Alpha Omega Alpha (ΑΩΑ) honor society membership, which can be associated with future success in academic medicine.

The study analyzed data from 4,655 applications from U.S. medical students applying for residency programs associated with one academic medical center. The majority self-reported race/ethnicity of the applicants was white (56 percent). Among the applicants, 966 (20.8 percent) had been elected into ΑΩΑ and the majority of them were white (71.5 percent).

The odds of ΑΩΑ membership for white students were nearly six times greater than those for black students and nearly twice greater than for Asian students after accounting for numerous demographic and educational factors, according to the results.

The study has limitations, including that it cannot pinpoint the precise cause of the disparity making some racial/ethnic minorities less likely than white medical students to be ΑΩΑ members. Also, it is possible that a disproportionately small number of black, Hispanic and Asian medical students who are ΑΩΑ members applied to Yale residency programs, which could bias the results, according to the article.

"The selection process for Alpha Omega Alpha membership may be vulnerable to bias, which may affect future opportunities for minority medical students," the article concludes.

In another article, Vineet M. Arora, M.D., M.A.P.P., of the University of Chicago, and coauthors compared the evaluation of male vs. female emergency medicine residents by faculty on the attainment of milestones throughout their residency training in a multicenter study. Those milestones are a standardized framework used to assess resident performance.

The study included 33,456 direct-observation evaluations from 359 emergency medicine residents (66 percent were men) by 285 faculty members (68 percent were men).

While female and male residents achieved similar training milestone levels and received similar evaluations at the beginning of residency, male residents had a higher rate of milestone attainment throughout all of residency, leading to a wide gender gap in evaluations that continued until graduation, according to the study.

No significant differences were found in scores given by male and female faculty members, indicating that faculty members of both sexes evaluated female residents lower, according to the article.

The study cannot determine the specific factors driving these outcomes.

"Regardless of the specific factors behind our findings, our study highlights the need for awareness of gender bias in residency training, which itself may partially serve to mitigate it," the article concludes.
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To read the full studies and other related articles, please visit the For The Media website.

Editor's Note: Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

The JAMA Network Journals

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