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Under-representation in Surgery: A Review of Hispanic Resident Physicians in Surgical Sub-Specialty

Christina Palomo

Northeast Ohio Medical University


Introduction: Hispanic individuals continue to be under-represented in medicine. Only 4.6% of medical school graduates and 4.0% full-time faculty identify as Hispanic. Though Hispanics represent a minority group across all specialties, this is most drastic across surgical sub-specialties. Methods: A review of the Accreditation Council Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) 2017-2018 data resource book was performed. The break-down of active residents was stratified by specialty, subspecialty, and ethnicity. A review of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) applicants and matriculants data within the last 4 years was performed. In addition, the most recent AAMC Diversity in Medical Education: Facts and Figures data series was reviewed. To assess the number of Hispanic physicians practicing in the United States, the AAMC Diversity in the Physician Workforce: Facts and Figures 2014 was reviewed. Results: The 2017-2018 ACGME data resource book reports 11 surgical specialties and 28 surgical sub-specialties. Of the surgical specialties, Hispanics makes up 1,122 (4.4%) of the 25,217 surgical residencies and 118 (4.9%) of 2,408 surgical sub-specialty fellowships. Compared to Caucasians who make up 12,735 (51.0%) surgical specialties and 1,490 (61.9%) sub-specialties and Asians who make up 3,086 (12.2%) and 338 (14.0%), Hispanics represent significantly less. This difference is less prevalent in primary care fields. Hispanics make up 3,114 (5.5%) of the 56,428 primary care residencies, while Caucasians make up 21,013 (37.7%) and Asians make up 9,994 (17.4%). The mean number of medical school applications differ greatly in Hispanics (4,893) when compared to Caucasians and Asians (25,349 and 11,647). Interestingly, the mean percentage of medical school applicants within the last 4 years is uniform at 41.0%, 43.0%, and 42.3%. The 2014 AAMC Diversity in the Physician Workforce reports 4.4% of active MD physicians are Hispanic/Latino, while 48.9% are Caucasians and 11.7% Asian. Conclusion: Residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino make up only 4.4% and 4.9% of surgical and sub-specialty fellowships. However, the number of Hispanic medical school matriculants, graduates, residents and attendings have been relatively consistent. In order to increase diversity and representation across all medical specialties, and especially surgical specialty fields, greater emphasis on medical school diversity and early exposure to specialties should be implemented.

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