Diversity and Facing Discrimination in Family Medicine Residencies: A CERA Survey of Program Directors

Fam Med. 2021 Nov;53(10):871-877. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2021.482291.


Background and objectives: Increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine (URM) has the potential to improve access and quality of care and reduce health inequities for diverse populations. Having a diverse workforce in residency programs necessitates structures in place for support, training, and addressing racism and discrimination. This study examines reports of discrimination and training initiatives to increase diversity and address discrimination and unconscious bias in family medicine residency programs nationally.

Methods: This survey was part of the Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) 2018 national survey of family medicine residency program directors. Questions addressed the presence of reported discrimination, residency program training about discrimination and bias, and admissions practices concerning physician workforce diversity. We performed univariate and bivariate analyses on CERA survey response data.

Results: We received 272 responses to the diversity survey items within the CERA program director survey from 522 possible residency director respondents, yielding a response rate of 52.1%. The majority of residency programs (78%) offer training for faculty and/or residents in unconscious/implicit bias and systemic/institutional racism. A minority of program directors report discrimination in the residency environment, most often reported by patients (13.2%) and staff (7.2%) and least often by faculty (3.3%), with most common reasons for discrimination noted as language or race/skin color.

Conclusions: Most family medicine residency program directors report initiatives to address diversity in the workforce. Research is needed to develop best practices to ensure continued improvement in workforce diversity and racial climate that will enhance the quality of care and access for underserved populations.

MeSH terms

  • Family Practice / education
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Physicians*
  • Research Personnel
  • Surveys and Questionnaires