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South Med J. 2017 Jan;110(1):11-17. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000000593.

A Review of Tenure for Black, Latino, and Native American Faculty in Academic Medicine.

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From the Center for Underrepresented Minorities in Academic Medicine, Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, Florida, the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah School of Medicine, Utah, and Diversity and Inclusion, Brody School of Medicine, Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.



Tenure policies in US medical schools have been under scrutiny for decades while black/African American, Latino, and Native American faculty continue to be underrepresented in medicine. As medical institutions seek to improve diversity, tenure continues to be a major retention tool. We undertook a systematic review of the literature to investigate the role that tenure plays in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of underrepresented minorities in medicine (URMM) faculty in academic medicine.


We searched PubMed, Google Scholar, Web of Knowledge, the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and the Education Resources Information Center for articles relating to URMM faculty and tenure. Articles published in the last 20 years, in English, that discussed recruitment or retention of women, URMM faculty, and tenure in academic medicine, and were of high quality based on data were included in the study. Narrative reviews, opinion, editorials, and letters to the editor were excluded.


Of the 1038 articles we reviewed, 23 met the criteria for inclusion. Tenure was associated with leadership, higher salaries, and comfort in the work environment. URMM faculty comprised the lowest percentage of tenured faculty in academic medicine, with the highest percentage pertaining to white men.


More research needs to be done to determine whether tenure status can improve the number of URMM faculty in academic medicine. Tenure may provide URMM faculty the benefits that they need to progress in their careers and remain in academic medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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