The effects of certain student and institutional characteristics on minority medical student specialty choice

J Natl Med Assoc. 1994 Feb;86(2):136-40.


This article investigates the possible effects of minority status, presence of a Minority Affairs Office or Student National Medical Association (SNMA) Chapter, level of indebtedness, and number of years (4 to 5) to complete medical school on specialty choice of minority medical students. The 5-year experiences of 20 medical schools in the southern region (including three in Puerto Rico) were examined via a questionnaire. Information was sought for African Americans, Afro-Caribbean, Mexican American, other minority, and nonminority students. Minority graduates entered the specialities of internal medicine, pediatrics, and family medicine in far greater numbers than any other speciality. Also, the percentage of minorities who entered these fields was greater than the percentage of non-minorities. Conversely, minorities were significantly underrepresented in the surgical subspecialties and radiology. Additional study is needed to further examine the medical school experience for indications of why the clustering in primary care specialities occurs. Moreover, while most schools had some kind of minority affairs organization, few were active in the writing of the Dean's letter. Other suggestions to assure adequate minority representation across specialties include early exposure to the different specialties and subspecialties for minority students, a mentorship program with practicing physicians, and stronger recruitment of minorities into underrepresented specialties.

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Career Choice*
  • Medicine / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mexican Americans*
  • Minority Groups*
  • Specialization*
  • Students, Medical*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States