The rate of underrepresented in medicine (URiM) women in the pediatric field have significantly increased, but the rates have remained stagnant and decreased in Black men, according to researchers with UTHealth Houston.
The findings were published in The Journal of Pediatrics.
Investigators looked at diversity trends of pediatric faculty in academic centers across the country from 2000 through 2020.
“Diverse workforces are thriving workforces,” said Emma Omoruyi, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and first and corresponding author of the study. “We know that academic medicine diversity is important for addressing health disparities and training the next generation. Through diversity, physicians are more likely to be sensitive and fully understanding of their patients’ needs. Our findings show that we are moving 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 United States Census Bureau, researchers examined 367,863 pediatric faculty and found the URiM female representation increased from 4.4% in 2000 to 7.8% in 2020 in the pediatric field, but the representation of men, particularly Black men, decreased from 1.32% in 2000 to 1.04% in 2020.
“The decrease of Black men in this field may be linked 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 consider what it’s like for these men growing up. Most of the time these young boys are not in an environment that is conducive to thriving toward the pathway of medicine. There are so many hurdles, once you start thinking of medicine – that is why I believe we are not seeing more men, especially Black men, in this field. They are not being set up for success at a young age,” she said.
Omoruyi hopes the findings of this study can help bring awareness to the importance of diversity in medicine so academic institutions across the U.S. can recruit and retain a diverse pediatric workforce and promote equitable care.
“Diversity in health care workforce is critical for the provision of culturally effective care that could improve health outcomes, increase access to care, and enhance the pool of medically trained policymakers and health care leaders. Internally, departments should be tracking their own hiring and be more transparent. On a larger scale, understanding why people are not coming into academic medicine and paying attention to their environment can help lead to bigger changes down the road,” Omoruyi said.
Additional researchers include Colin J. Orr, MD, MPH, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and Greg Russell, MS, and Kimberly Montez, MD, MPH, with Wake Forest University Health Sciences.