Improving the Diversity Climate in Academic Medicine: Faculty Perceptions as a Catalyst for Institutional Change

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Abstract

Purpose

To assess perceptions of underrepresented minority (URM) and majority faculty physicians regarding an institution’s diversity climate, and to identify potential improvement strategies.

Method

The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of tenure-track physicians at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine from June 1, 2004 to September 30, 2005; they measured faculty perceptions of bias in department/division operational activities, professional satisfaction, career networking, mentorship, and intentions to stay in academia, and they examined associations between race/ethnicity and faculty perceptions using multivariate logistic regression.

Results

Among 703 eligible faculty, 352 (50.1%) returned surveys. Fewer than one third of respondents reported experiences of bias in department/division activities; however, URM faculty were less likely than majority faculty to believe faculty recruitment is unbiased (21.1% versus 50.6%, P = .006). A minority of respondents were satisfied with institutional support for professional development. URM faculty were nearly four times less likely than majority faculty to report satisfaction with racial/ethnic diversity (12% versus 47.1%, P = .001) and three times less likely to believe networking included minorities (9.3% versus 32.6%, P = .014). There were no racial/ethnic differences in the quality of mentorship. More than 80% of respondents believed they would be in academic medicine in five years. However, URM faculty were less likely to report they would be at their current institution in five years (42.6% versus 70.5%, P = .004).

Conclusions

Perceptions of the institution’s diversity climate were poor for most physician faculty and were worse for URM faculty, highlighting the need for more transparent and diversity-sensitive recruitment, promotion, and networking policies/practices.

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