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J Natl Med Assoc. 2008 Sep;100(9):1084-7.

Career experiences and perceptions of underrepresented minority medical school faculty.

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  • 1Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA, USA.



Although studies have outlined the benefit of diversity in academic medicine, the number of underrepresented minority (URM) faculty remains low. In 1998, University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine with the Hispanic Center of Excellence began a formalized proactive faculty development program. Over the past 10 years, recruitment and retention of URM junior faculty have increased. We undertook a study to explore factors associated with this improvement.


Semistructured interviews were conducted with 18 out of 26 URM and 12 out of 26 randomly chosen non-URM assistant and associate faculty members throughout 2005. Interview content, based on a conceptual framework from Joanne Moody, included career path, knowledge and experience with faculty development programs and perceived faculty standing.


URM faculty were more likely than majority faculty (44% vs. 8%, p = 0.04) to mention the importance of a role model in choosing their career path. URM faculty participated in faculty development programs at a higher rate than majority faculty (78% vs. 17%, p < 0.001), were more likely to find out about programs through personal contact (94% vs. 42%, p = 0.001) and reported more personal contacts prior to participation (78% vs. 33%, p = 0.02). URM faculty were older, graduated earlier and were more likely hired into a staff position prior to faculty appointment (61% vs. 17%, p = 0.02).


Academic medical centers may find competitive URM candidates in staff positions and alternative faculty tracks within their institution. Informing URM faculty often and personally about opportunities for faculty development may increase their participation in career development programs and improve retention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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