Minority Tax on Medical Students: A Review of the Literature and Mitigation Recommendations

Fam Med. 2024 Mar;56(3):169-175. doi: 10.22454/FamMed.2024.268466.


Background and objectives: Accreditation standards for MD- and DO-granting institutions require medical schools to recruit a diverse student body and educate students about diverse groups of patients. The minority tax is a summary of responsibilities assigned to racial and ethnic underrepresented faculty to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion in medical institutions in addition to their typical academic workload. This article provides a narrative review of medical students' experiences of the minority tax and recommendations on how medical educators can support an equitable learning environment by eliminating the minority tax.

Methods: We searched the PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus databases, Google Scholar, and medical society websites, blogs, and fora for terms, including minority tax, medical students, and undergraduate medical education. We included publications if they discussed the underrepresented in medicine medical students' experiences of the minority tax.

Results: Our search yielded six peer-reviewed original research articles and six publications of commentaries, opinion pieces, or news pieces. Students who were underrepresented in medicine reported spending more hours on diversity efforts compared with students who were not underrepresented; moreover, students reported that they had to sacrifice academic excellence in order to fulfill these additional diversity duties.

Conclusions: The minority tax among medical students constitutes an unequitable and unjust barrier to career advancement, and it likely represents an early cause of attrition in the pipeline of underrepresented in medicine academic faculty. Medical educators can enact specific recommendations to eliminate or mitigate the minority tax experience for medical students.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Faculty, Medical
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups
  • Racial Groups
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical*