American Council of Academic Plastic Surgeons
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Improving Plastic Surgery Exposure and Research in Underrepresented Minorities: The Impact of a Philanthropy-based Summer Research Program
Michael Ha, MB BChir1; Ledibabari M Ngaage, MB BChir1,2; Caroline Simon, BS1; Arya Andre Akhavan, MD2, Jonathan Anderson, BFA3, Sheri Slezak, MD1; Kristen Stueber, MD1; Yvonne Rasko, MD1
1Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA, 2Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA, 3St. George's University School of Medicine, Grenada, West Indies

Background: Diversity among plastic surgery residents lags behind other medical specialties. Research productivity can increase the competitiveness of a candidate’s application and enhance their chances of a successful residency match. The authors proposed a philanthropic approach to improve the competitiveness of underrepresented-in-medicine applicants to plastic surgery programs
Methods: In 2014, the authors’ institution implemented the “Scholarship Program”, created and financed from the charitable donations of a single alumnus. This 10-week summer research scholarship provides medical students with research experience and opportunities in plastic surgery. All past Scholars completed a questionnaire on satisfaction and reasons for pursuing the scholarship. The authors then performed a bibliometric analysis on each scholar using Scopus, PubMed, and Google Scholar to identify published articles since the scholarship and up to the point of residency application
Results: Over the last 8 years, 15 medical students have completed the Scholarship. All Scholars reported being very satisfied with their experience. There was a 1:4 male:female ratio, and three quarters (73%) of students were from underrepresented minorities. Only 13% of Scholars had a parent who was a physician. The most common reason for applying to the scholarship was to “gain exposure to plastic surgery” {100%), followed by “strengthen a future match application” (80%). On average, each Scholar achieved 1.2 research awards, 5.9 publications, and 6.1 presentations after participation in the scholarship
Conclusion: The paucity of diversity in the medical field is a complex issue without a single panacea. This article demonstrates the impact of a summer program funded by philanthropy. Medical students from underrepresented minorities had remarkable increases in their research productivity and accolades.

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