Major deficit in the number of underrepresented minority academic surgeons persists

Ann Surg. 2008 Nov;248(5):704-11. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e31817f2c30.


Introduction: Eliminating health care disparities in the United States will require a multifaceted approach that will include increasing diversity in the health care workforce. Historically, the field of medicine, and particularly surgery, has had an incumbent that grossly misrepresents the patient population. Delineating the exact demographics of the U.S. surgical residents and faculty could provide outstanding information, yielding insight into a possible deficit that, if rectified by the medical education system, could change the face of surgery and the entire health care system.

Methods: Demographic information regarding medical students, surgical residents, and surgical faculty was retrieved and analyzed from the Association of American Medical Colleges data files dating back to 1966.

Results: Whites comprise 64.4% of U.S. surgical residents, whereas Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans comprise 17.2%, 4.7%, and 5.1%, respectively. Whites comprise 74.1%, of academic surgeons, whereas Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans comprise 10.8%, 2.9%, and 3.6%, respectively. African Americans and Latino Americans comprise 5.4% and 4.8% of all U.S. surgeons, but only 2.9% and 3.6% of the academic surgeons, respectively. Whites comprise 85.7% of tenured surgical professors, whereas Asian Americans, African Americans, and Latino Americans comprise 4.9%, 1.8%, and 2.7%, respectively.

Conclusion: Academic surgery is exceedingly deficient of minority residents, junior faculty, and professors. Correcting this misrepresentation would facilitate establishing a more culturally and ethnically sensitive health care environment for patients who otherwise would not seek care. Additionally, with more minority academic surgeons, there will likely be a commensurate increase in investigative studies highlighting minority specific health care needs and provide additional role models and mentors for future minority surgeons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • General Surgery* / education
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / statistics & numerical data
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data
  • Workforce