American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Ethnic diversity influences applicant perspectives of plastic surgery residency programs
Rachel Guest, MD; Matthew Miller, MD; James A Butterworth, MD
University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS

Background: Gender equality and diversity are important issues facing the medical field. In plastic surgery, African American and Hispanic physicians are under-represented at all levels, with a bottleneck effect at transition points. It has been suggested that increased departmental ethnic diversity attracts diverse applicants due to desire for minority mentorship and a perception of program inclusiveness, in addition to creating a more supportive and non-discriminatory environment for learning.
Methods: Electronic surveys were distributed to applicants for integrated plastic surgery residency positions during the 2020-2021 application cycle. Survey responses were analyzed using Studentís t-Tests with ?=0.05. Free-text responses were analyzed for similarities in response themes.
Results: The response rate was 17.8%. Respondents consisted of the following ethnicities: 57.1% White, 12.2% Asian, 10.2% Hispanic, 8.2% other, 6.1% Black/African American, and 2.0% American Indian or Native Alaskan. 10.2% did not disclose their ethnicity. On average, respondents attended 12 interviews (SD 7). Applicants agreed that ethnic diversity among residents and faculty influenced perception of programs more than rank-order list creation. Programs with no under-represented in medicine (UIM) residents or faculty were perceived negatively, with the ideal UIM composition for both residents and faculty being at least 27%. UIM respondents agreed more strongly that having residents (p=0.005) and faculty (p=0.009) of their ethnicity positively affected their perception and/or rank order list creation. 50% of UIM respondents ranked programs higher when program leadership (department or division chair, associate program director, program director) consisted of members of their ethnicity, compared to 14.7% of non-UIM respondents (p=0.014). Respondents cited reasons including mentorship opportunities, program culture, opportunities for personal growth, and unique perspectives.
Conclusion: Ethnic diversity within plastic surgery residency programs affects perception and rank-order list creation for prospective applicants. UIM applicants may more positively perceive or rank programs higher when program leadership consists of physicians of their ethnicity. Initiatives to improve ethnic diversity should be encouraged.


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