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.