Background: The number of racial/ethnic minority children will exceed the number of white children in the USA by 2018. Although 38% of Americans are minorities, only 12% of pediatricians, 5% of medical-school faculty, and 3% of medical-school professors are minorities. Furthermore, only 5% of all R01 applications for National Institutes of Health grants are from African-American, Latino, and American Indian investigators. Prompted by the persistent lack of diversity in the pediatric and biomedical research workforces, the Academic Pediatric Association Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity (RAPID) was initiated in 2012. RAPID targets applicants who are members of an underrepresented minority group (URM), disabled, or from a socially, culturally, economically, or educationally disadvantaged background. The program, which consists of both a research project and career and leadership development activities, includes an annual career-development and leadership conference which is open to any resident, fellow, or junior faculty member from an URM, disabled, or disadvantaged background who is interested in a career in academic general pediatrics.
Methods: As part of the annual RAPID conference, a Hot Topic Session is held in which the young investigators spend several hours developing a list of hot topics on the most useful faculty and career-development issues. These hot topics are then posed in the form of six "burning questions" to the RAPID National Advisory Committee (comprised of accomplished, nationally recognized senior investigators who are seasoned mentors), the RAPID Director and Co-Director, and the keynote speaker.
Results/conclusions: The six compelling questions posed by the 10 young investigators-along with the responses of the senior conference leadership-provide a unique resource and "survival guide" for ensuring the academic success and optimal career development of young investigators in academic pediatrics from diverse backgrounds. A rich conversation ensued on the topics addressed, consisting of negotiating for protected research time, career trajectories as academic institutions move away from an emphasis on tenure-track positions, how "non-academic" products fit into career development, racism and discrimination in academic medicine and how to address them, coping with isolation as a minority faculty member, and how best to mentor the next generation of academic physicians.
Keywords: African Americans; Discrimination; Diversity; Hispanic Americans; Minority groups; Racism; Workforce.