Underrepresented Minorities in Surgical Residencies: Where are They? A Call to Action to Increase the Pipeline

Ann Surg. 2020 Oct 14. doi: 10.1097/SLA.0000000000004209. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To describe and evaluate trends of general surgery residency applicants, matriculants, and graduates over the last 13 years.

Summary of background data: The application and matriculation rates of URMs to medical school has remained unchanged over the last three decades with Blacks and Hispanics representing 7.1% and 6.3% of matriculants, respectively. With each succession along the surgical career pathway, from medical school to residency to a faculty position, the percentage of URMs decreases.

Methods: The Electronic Residency Application Service to General Surgery Residency and the Graduate Medical Education Survey of residents completing general surgery residency were retrospectively analyzed (2005-2018). Data were stratified by race, descriptive statistics were performed, and time series were charted.

Results: From 2005 to 2018, there were 71,687 Electronic Residency Application Service applicants to general surgery residencies, 26,237 first year matriculants, and 24,893 general surgery residency graduates. Whites followed by Asians represented the highest percentage of applicants (n = 31,197, 43.5% and n = 16,602, 23%), matriculants (n = 16,395, 62.5% and n = 4768, 18.2%), and graduates (n = 15,239, 61% and n = 4804, 19%). For URMs, the applicants (n = 8603, 12%, P < 0.00001), matriculants (n = 2420, 9.2%, P = 0.0158), and graduates (n = 2508, 10%, P = 0.906) remained significantly low and unchanged, respectively, whereas the attrition was significantly higher (3.6%, P = 0.049) when compared to Whites (2.6%) and Asians (2.9%).

Conclusion: Significant disparities in the application, matriculation, graduation, and attrition rates for general surgery residency exists for URMs. A call to action is needed to re-examine and improve existing recommendations/paradigms to increase the number of URMs in the surgery training pipeline.