August 24, 2015
1 min read

Representation of women, minorities in physician workforce improving, still a long way to go

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Despite women representing the majority of graduate medical education trainees across seven specialties, black and Hispanic populations are still under-represented in all trainee fields, according to recently published data in JAMA Internal Medicine.

“In 2012, women accounted for the majority of [graduate medical education] trainees in seven specialties. In no specialties, however, were the percentages of black or Hispanic trainees comparable with the representation of these groups in the U.S. population,” the researchers wrote.

Researchers used publically reported data from 2012 to assess the diversity among individuals obtaining graduate medical education (GME) across 20 different specialties, compared with the U.S. population of practicing physicians and medical school graduates.

Results demonstrated that in 2012, 46.1% of GME trainees were women and 13.8% were of under-represented minority groups (URM), which included blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

Of the 16,835 medical school graduates, 48.3% were women and 15.3% were URMs, with 7.4% being Hispanic and 6.8% being black.

Women accounted for 30.1% of practicing physicians and URMs accounted for 9.2%, with Hispanic individuals representing 5.2% and black individuals representing 3.8%.

Compared with the total U.S. population and medical school graduates, women and URMs, with the exception of Hispanics (P = .85), were all under-represented as GME trainees (P < .001).

Women accounted for 73.5% of pediatric trainees and 82.4% of obstetrics and gynecology trainees, the areas in which they were most highly represented, but only accounted for 13.8% of orthopedic trainees.

Black and Hispanic trainees were most represented in family medicine (7.5% and 9%, respectively) and obstetrics and gynecology (10.3% and 8.7%, respectively). The percentage of Hispanic trainees was also high in psychiatry (9.3%) and pediatrics (8.7%).

Black trainees were most under-represented in otolaryngology (2.2%) and Hispanics were most under-represented in ophthalmology (3.6%).

The researchers noted that representation significantly decreased for women, blacks and Hispanics in radiology, orthopedic surgery and otolaryngology.

“Continued efforts are needed to increase the diversity of the physician workforce in the United States, particularly the specialties with the lowest representations of women, blacks, or Hispanics,” the researchers concluded. – by Casey Hower

Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.