Race and surgical residency: results from a national survey of 4339 US general surgery residents

Ann Surg. 2013 Apr;257(4):782-7. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0b013e318269d2d0.


Objective: To determine how race influences US general surgery residents' experiences during residency training.

Background: Minorities are underrepresented in medicine, particularly surgery, with no large-scale studies investigating their training experiences.

Methods: Cross-sectional national survey administered after the 2008 American Board of Surgery In-Training Examination to all categorical general surgery residents. Demographic characteristics and survey responses with respect to race were evaluated using the χ test and hierarchical logistic regression modeling.

Results: A total of 4339 residents were included: 61.9% whites, 18.5% Asians, 8.5% Hispanics, 5.3% Blacks, and 5.8% Others. Minorities differed from whites in sex proportion, marital status, number of children, geographic location, type of residency program, and 24 survey items (all Ps < 0.05). Compared with white residents, Black, Asian, and Other residents were less likely to feel they fit in at their programs (86.2% vs 73.9%, 83.3%, and 81.2%, respectively; P < 0.001). Black and Asian residents were more likely to report that attendings would think worse of them if they asked for help (13.5% vs 20.4% and 18.4%, respectively; P = 0.002), and Black residents were less likely to feel they could count on their peers for help (85.2% vs 77.2%; P = 0.017). On hierarchical logistic regression modeling, Blacks were least likely to fit in at their programs (odds ratio = 0.6; P = 0.004), and all minorities were more likely to feel that there was a need for additional specialty training (odds ratio = 1.4 Blacks and Hispanics, 1.9 Asians, and 2.1 Others; all Ps ≤ 0.05).

Conclusions: Minority residents report less positively on program fit and relationships with faculty and peers. Future studies should focus on examining residency interventions to improve support and integration of minority residents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • General Surgery / education*
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Minority Groups / psychology*
  • Racial Groups / psychology*
  • United States
  • Young Adult