February 2, 2009

Diversity persists as issue in med schools

Awareness and sensitivity to racial and ethnic diversity are believed by most U.S. medical school faculty to be poor, researchers said.

A survey, conducted at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is likely a reflection of diversity issues thought to persist at academic medical institutions across the country, said principal investigator Dr. Lisa Cooper, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

What we are seeing at Johns Hopkins is likely to be the case in medical schools everywhere, namely that enhancing racial and ethnic diversity in medicine in general, and in academic medicine in particular, remains a challenge, Cooper said in statement.

Cooper and Dr. Eboni G. Price, now at Tulane University, surveyed 703 tenure-track physicians at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from 2004 to 2005. Of the 352 physicians who returned their surveys, 30 were underrepresented minorities.

At Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, whites make up 74.6 percent of the faculty, African-Americans 3.8 percent, Hispanics 2.9 percent, Asians 18.6 percent and Native Americans 0.8 percent.

The study, published in Academic Medicine, found 12 percent of underrepresented minority faculty were satisfied with the institution's racial and ethnic diversity, compared to 47 percent of majority faculty. Underrepresented minority faculty members were three times less likely to believe that networking opportunities included minorities.