Survey: Barriers discourage diverse students from dermatology career


A lack of diversity in the field of dermatology is a top reason that students of color reject a dermatology career, a new analysis finds.

Susan C. Taylor, MD, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

Dr. Susan C. Taylor

Yssra S. Soliman of the division of dermatology, in the department of medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, and colleagues surveyed 155 students from 28 different medical schools between January and April 2018 about barriers to applying for a dermatology residency. Of total participants, 43% expressed an interest in applying for a dermatology residency. Of the 155 survey respondents, 58% were nonwhite.

Students of ethnic minorities and students with lower incomes cited lack of diversity in dermatology as a top barrier to applying for a dermatology residency, according to a research letter published in JAMA Dermatology.Other primary barriers reported by students of color were negative perceptions of minority students by residencies, such as lower performance expectations; socioeconomic factors, such as lack of loan forgiveness; and a lack of mentors. (Minorities in the study were defined as nonwhite students and lower-income students were defined as those with annual household incomes below $40,000.)

Study authors wrote that the results highlight the need to recruit and mentor students of all backgrounds. Furthermore, efforts should be made to increase minority students’ exposure to dermatology through curriculum, providing research opportunities, and reducing the cost of visiting electives by providing stipends, they concluded.

The survey results are not surprising, said Susan C. Taylor, MD, cofounder of the Skin of Color Center at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York and a Philadelphia-based dermatologist. “I think that [the survey] is accurate and reflects the most common barriers for minority students,” Dr. Taylor said in an interview.

While recent progress has been made in discussing the subject of diversity in dermatology and identifying ways to improve, there has been little change in the actual numbers of diverse dermatologists, she noted.

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