January 17, 2020
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Diversity representation needed in academic dermatology

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U.S. dermatology departments have a low proportion of underrepresented in medicine faculty, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

Researchers assessed long-term trends in sex, race and ethnicity to determine faculty diversity and calculated the proportion of faculty by sex and underrepresented in medicine (URM) status from 1970 to 2018. Information from the Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Roster was used for the study.

“While the overall proportion of faculty with background from URM was low in the field of academic dermatology, women became the majority of dermatology department faculty,” Imam M. Xierali, PhD, of the department of family and community medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, told Healio.

Dermatology departments grew significantly in faculty size over the study period. Nationally, the number of full-time faculty increased from 167 in 1970 to 1,464 in 2018. The percentage of female faculty members increased from 10.8% to 51.2%, while the percentage of URM faculty increased from 4.8% to 7.4%.

Findings from this assessment show that female representation in the field of academic dermatology is in a stage of early progress. Although the proportion of women in the field of academic dermatology increased, the number of URM faculty remained relatively low among all dermatology department faculty ranks.

“While more research is needed to further assess the value of diversity in academic dermatology departments and the dermatologist workforce, a diverse physician workforce may be important for reducing health care disparities,” Xierali said. “Studies have shown that patients receiving care from physicians of the same race/ethnicity report greater satisfaction with their treatment and greater communication with their health care professionals; the sex of the physician can influence the provision of both screening and counseling services to patients.” by Erin T. Welsh

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.