Keys to academic success for under-represented minority young investigators: recommendations from the Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity (RAPID) National Advisory Committee

Int J Equity Health. 2019 Jun 18;18(1):93. doi: 10.1186/s12939-019-0995-1.


Background: Although Latinos, African-Americans, and American Indians/Alaska Natives comprise 34% of Americans, these under-represented minorities (URMs) account for only 7% of US medical-school faculty. Even when URMs become faculty, they face many substantial challenges to success. Little has been published, however, on keys to academic success for URM young faculty investigators.

Methods: The Research in Academic Pediatrics Initiative on Diversity (RAPID) goal is to enhance the professional advancement of URM junior faculty pursuing research careers in general academic pediatrics. One important RAPID component is the annual mentoring/career-development conference, which targets URM residents, fellows, and junior faculty, and has included 62 URM participants since its 2013 inception. A conference highlight is the panel discussion on keys to academic success for URM young investigators, conducted by the RAPID National Advisory Committee, a diverse group of leading senior researchers. The article aim was to provide a guide to academic success for URM young investigators using the 2018 RAPID Conference panel discussion. A modified Delphi technique was used to provide a systematic approach to obtaining answers to six key questions using an expert panel: the single most important key to success for URM young investigators; ensuring optimal mentorship; how to respond when patients/families say, "I don't want you to see my child because you are ____"; best strategies for maximizing funding success; how to balance serving on time-consuming committees with enough time to advance research/career objectives; and the single thing you wish someone had told you which would have substantially enhanced your success early on.

Results/conclusions: This is the first published practical guide on keys to academic success for URM young investigators. Identified keys to success included having multiple mentors, writing prolifically, being tenaciously persistent, having mentors who are invested in you, dealing with families who do not want you to care for their child because of your race/ethnicity by seeking to understand the reasons and debriefing with colleagues, seeking non-traditional funding streams, balancing committee work with having enough time to advance one's research and career by using these opportunities to generate scholarly products, and asking for all needed resources when negotiating for new jobs.

Keywords: African Americans; Discrimination; Diversity; Hispanic Americans; Minority groups; Racism; Workforce.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Academic Success
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Biomedical Research / organization & administration*
  • Biomedical Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Faculty, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mentors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pediatrics*
  • Research Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Schools, Medical / organization & administration*
  • Schools, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • United States
  • Young Adult