Perceptions of Otolaryngology Residency Among Students Underrepresented in Medicine

Laryngoscope. 2022 Mar 4. doi: 10.1002/lary.30090. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (OHNS) has historically been one of the least diverse surgical subspecialties. The objective of this study was to better understand perceptions of OHNS from underrepresented students in medicine (URiM) and identify factors affecting URiM application to the specialty.

Study design: Survey via electronic questionnaire.

Methods: An anonymous, 22-question electronic survey was administered nationally to URiM medical students (N = 388) regarding factors that play a role in developing an interest in applying to OHNS. Responses to questions were compared between URiMs applying to OHNS and those applying to other fields.

Results: Thirty-six percent of respondents identified as African American and 26% as Latino. Students completed the survey in all years of medical school. Research opportunities (H(2) = 18.58, P < .001) and having a race-concordant role model were the most important factors for those pursing OHNS residency. Personality fit and interactions with OHNS faculty had the greatest influence on their decision to pursue OHNS residency. Board scores (e.g., USMLE Step 1/2CK Scores), competitiveness, lifestyle during residency, the influence of application costs, and racial/ethnic and gender distributions did not reach statistical significance or were noninfluential.

Conclusion: URiMs applying to OHNS value race-concordant mentorship, are involved in research, and have meaningful relationships with their respective OHNS department. We found that establishing meaningful connections with URiM mentors significantly impacts URiM students considering OHNS. While this cohort was not influenced by overemphasis of board scores within the OHNS match process, the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted this aspect of their application, along with away rotations.

Level of evidence: N/A Laryngoscope, 2022.

Keywords: Underrepresented in medicine; diversity; otolaryngology; residency; underrepresented minority.