Perceived Discrimination Among Surgical Residents at Academic Medical Centers

J Surg Res. 2022 Apr;272:79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2021.10.029. Epub 2021 Dec 20.


Background: Residents of color experience microaggressions in the work environment, are less likely to feel that they fit into their training programs, and feel less comfortable asking for help. Discrimination has been documented among surgical residents, but has not been extensively studied and largely remains unaddressed. We sought to determine the extent of perceived discrimination among general surgery residents.

Materials and methods: Residents who were enrolled in a randomized controlled trial investigating a cultural dexterity curriculum completed baseline assessments prior to randomization that included demographic information and the Everyday Discrimination Scale (EDS). Data from the baseline assessments were analyzed for associations of EDS scores with race, ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic level, language ability, and training level.

Results: Of 266 residents across seven residency programs, 145 (55%) were men. Racial breakdown was 157 (59%) White, 45 (17%) Asian, 30 (11%) Black, and 12 (5%) Multiracial. The median EDS score was seven (range: 0-36); 58 (22%) fell into the High EDS score group. Resident race, fluency in a language other than English, and median household income were significantly associated with EDS scores. When controlling for other sociodemographic factors, Black residents were 4.2 (95% CI 1.62-11.01, P = 0.003) times as likely to have High EDS scores than their White counterparts.

Conclusions: Black surgical residents experience high levels of perceived discrimination on a daily basis. Institutional leaders should be aware of these findings as they seek to cultivate a diverse surgical training environment.

Trial registration: NCT03576495.

Keywords: Bias; Everyday discrimination scale; Perceived discrimination; Surgical education; Surgical residents; Underrepresented in medicine.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Perceived Discrimination
  • Racial Groups

Associated data