Ethnic and Racial Diversity in Academic PM&R Compared to All Other Medical Specialties

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2020 Jun 1. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001486. Online ahead of print.


The primary aim of this study was to compare ethnic/racial diversity in academic Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) to all other medical specialties in academia. The secondary aim was to characterize ethnic/racial diversity of current PM&R program directors. Self-reported ethnicity/race information was collected from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Ethnicity/race was defined as White, Asian, African American, Hispanic, and Other. Odds ratios and Fisher's exact tests were used to compare ethnic/racial differences at each career level between each specialty. In 2017, in PM&R, compared to Whites, there was decreased odds of African Americans by 89% (OR 0.11), 90% for Hispanics (OR 0.10), 62% for Asians (OR 0.38), and 73% for Other (OR 0.27) (all p<0.001). This disparity increased in full professors: 99% (OR 0.01), 96% (OR 0.04), 87% (OR 0.13), and 90% (OR 0.10) respectively (all p<0.001). In 2019, the majority of PM&R program directors identified as White (51%) compared to Hispanic (4%) and African American (2%). Overall, ethnic/racial underrepresented minorities (URM) in medicine decreased with increasing academic rank. Therefore, more robust initiatives must be implemented to improve exposure, recruitment, and retention of URM at all levels of PM&R academia.