Background: Ethnic diversity among physicians may be linked to improved access and quality of care for minorities. Academic medical institutions are challenged to increase representation of ethnic minorities among health professionals.
Objectives: To explore the perceptions of physician faculty regarding the following: (1) the institution's cultural diversity climate and (2) facilitators and barriers to success and professional satisfaction in academic medicine within this context.
Design: Qualitative study using focus groups and semi-structured interviews.
Participants: Nontenured physicians in the tenure track at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Approach: Focus groups and interviews were audio-taped, transcribed verbatim, and reviewed for thematic content in a 3-stage independent review/adjudication process.
Results: Study participants included 29 faculty representing 9 clinical departments, 4 career tracks, and 4 ethnic groups. In defining cultural diversity, faculty noted visible (race/ethnicity, foreign-born status, gender) and invisible (religion, sexual orientation) dimensions. They believe visible dimensions provoke bias and cumulative advantages or disadvantages in the workplace. Minority and foreign-born faculty report ethnicity-based disparities in recruitment and subtle manifestations of bias in the promotion process. Minority and majority faculty agree that ethnic differences in prior educational opportunities lead to disparities in exposure to career options, and qualifications for and subsequent recruitment to training programs and faculty positions. Minority faculty also describe structural barriers (poor retention efforts, lack of mentorship) that hinder their success and professional satisfaction after recruitment. To effectively manage the diversity climate, our faculty recommended 4 strategies for improving the psychological climate and structural diversity of the institution.
Conclusions: Soliciting input from faculty provides tangible ideas regarding interventions to improve an institution's diversity climate.