Understanding Exposure to Plastic Surgery at the Undergraduate University Level
Kimberly H. Khoo, MPH1; Siam Rezwan1; Christopher Groetsch, BA1; Waverley He, BA2; Erica Lee, MS1; Kristen P. Broderick, MD1; Carisa M. Cooney, MPH1
1Department of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA, 2Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Background: A diverse workforce in medicine has been shown to improve health equity and patient outcomes. Despite this, minority populations are underrepresented among physicians, particularly among surgical specialties such as plastic and reconstructive surgery. Current research investigates where along the medical school-to-residency pathway (aka, “the pipeline”) students of color are lost. This study aims to target students earlier in the pipeline, during undergraduate university, to determine if and how students are exposed to the field of plastic surgery and if exposures differ by demographic variables.
Methods: Data was collected via an IRB-approved survey distributed via Qualtrics to one institution’s undergraduate students self-identified as pursuing a career as a physician. Descriptive statistics and logistic regression were conducted to determine odds of exposure to plastic surgery when considering variables such as race and academic factors (e.g., year in school, involvement in research).
Results: Of 136 completed surveys, 54 met inclusion criteria and were analyzed: 75.9% (n=41) were women, 25.9% (n=14) were college juniors, and 9.3% (n=5) were college seniors. The majority of respondents were East Asian (33.3%, n=18), followed by multiracial (18.5%, n=10), and South Asian (14.8%, n=8). Women had a lower odds of exposure to plastic surgery than men (OR: 0.913, 95% CI: 0.3-3.2) and Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students had a higher odds of exposure than White students (OR: 1.3 and 3.3, respectively; CI: 0.4-30.7 and 0.1-15.7, respectively). Odds of exposure increased with each increasing year of age (OR: 1.63, CI: 1.0-2.7) and were higher for students involved in research than those who were not (OR: 4.7, CI: 0.9-24.4).
Conclusion: Our preliminary survey of undergraduate students at one academic institution demonstrates that men, African American, and Latinx students were more likely to have had previous exposure to plastic surgery than women or White students. Additionally, older students or those with research experience were increasingly likely to have had exposure to the field. We are currently expanding the study to include other undergraduate universities to confirm or disprove these data in order to better design potential interventions to support underrepresented students pursuing plastic and reconstructive surgery.
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