Update on workforce diversity in vascular surgery

J Vasc Surg. 2020 Dec 18;S0741-5214(20)32612-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2020.12.063. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: Creating a diverse workforce is paramount to the success of the surgical field. A diverse workforce allows us to meet the health needs of an increasingly diverse population and to bring new ideas to spur technical innovation. The purpose of this study was to assess trends in workforce diversity within vascular surgery (VS) and general surgery (GS) as compared to orthopedic surgery (OS)-a specialty that instituted a formal diversity initiative over a decade ago.

Methods: Data on the trainee pool for VS (fellowships and integrated residencies), GS, and OS were obtained from the U.S. Graduate Medical Education reports for 1999 through 2017. Medical student demographic data were obtained from the Association of American Medical Colleges U.S. medical school enrollment reports. Representation of surgical trainee populations (female, Hispanic and Black) were normalized by their representation in medical school. We also performed Chi-squared test to compare proportions of residents over dichotomized time periods (1999-2005 and 2013-2017) as well as a more sensitive trend of proportions test.

Results: The proportion of female trainees increased significantly between the time periods for the three surgical disciplines examined (P<0.001). Hispanic trainees also represented an increasing proportion of all three disciplines (P<0.001). The proportion of Black trainees did not significantly change in any discipline between the two periods. Relative to their proportion in medical school, Hispanic trainees were well represented in all surgical specialties studied (Normalized Ratio 0.95-1.52: 0.95 OS, 1.00 GS, 1.53 VS fellowship, and 1.23 VS residency). Compared to their representation in medical school, women were under-represented as surgical trainees (NR 0.32 OS, 0.82 GS, 0.56 VS fellowship, and 0.78 VS residency) as were Black trainees (NR 0.63 OS, 0.90 GS, 0.99 VS fellowship, and 0.81 VS residency).

Conclusion: While there were significant increases in the number of women and Hispanic trainees in these three surgical disciplines, only Hispanic trainees enter the surgical field at a rate higher than their proportion in medical school. The lack of increase in Black trainees across all specialties was particularly discouraging. Women and Black trainees were underrepresented in all specialties as compared to their representation in medical school. The data presented suggest potential problems with recruitment at multiple levels of the pipeline. Particular attention should be paid to increasing the pool of minority medical school graduates who are both interested in and competitive for surgical specialties.