Importance: The lack of underrepresented in medicine physicians within US academic surgery continues, with Black surgeons representing a disproportionately low number.
Objective: To evaluate the trend of general surgery residency application, matriculation, and graduation rates for Black trainees compared with their racial and ethnic counterparts over time.
Design, setting, and participants: In this nationwide multicenter study, data from the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS) for the general surgery residency match and Graduate Medical Education (GME) surveys of graduating general surgery residents were retrospectively reviewed and stratified by race, ethnicity, and sex. Analyses consisted of descriptive statistics, time series plots, and simple linear regression for the rate of change over time. Medical students and general surgery residency trainees of Asian, Black, Hispanic or Latino of Spanish origin, White, and other races were included. Data for non-US citizens or nonpermanent residents were excluded. Data were collected from 2005 to 2018, and data were analyzed in March 2021.
Main outcomes and measures: Primary outcomes included the rates of application, matriculation, and graduation from general surgery residency programs.
Results: Over the study period, there were 71 687 applicants, 26 237 first-year matriculants, and 24 893 graduates. Of 71 687 applicants, 24 618 (34.3%) were women, 16 602 (23.2%) were Asian, 5968 (8.3%) were Black, 2455 (3.4%) were Latino, and 31 197 (43.5%) were White. Women applicants and graduates increased from 29.4% (1178 of 4003) to 37.1% (2293 of 6181) and 23.5% (463 of 1967) to 33.5% (719 of 2147), respectively. When stratified by race and ethnicity, applications from Black women increased from 2.2% (87 of 4003) to 3.5% (215 of 6181) (P < .001) while applications from Black men remained unchanged (3.7% [150 of 4003] to 4.6% [284 of 6181]). While the matriculation rate for Black women remained unchanged (2.4% [46 of 1919] to 2.3% [52 of 2264]), the matriculation rate for Black men significantly decreased (3.0% [57 of 1919] to 2.4% [54 of 2264]; P = .04). Among Black graduates, there was a significant decline in graduation for men (4.3% [85 of 1967] to 2.7% [57 of 2147]; P = .03) with the rate among women remaining unchanged (1.7% [33 of 1967] to 2.2% [47 of 2147]).
Conclusions and relevance: Findings of this study show that the underrepresentation of Black physicians at every stage in surgical training pipeline persists. Black men are especially affected. Identifying factors that address intersectionality and contribute to the successful recruitment and retention of Black trainees in general surgery residency is critical for achieving racial and ethnic as well as gender equity.