Education| Volume 45, ISSUE 1, P100-104, July 2013

Under-Represented Minorities in Emergency Medicine



      According to the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Institute of Medicine, promoting diversity in the health care workforce is a national priority. The under-representation of minorities in health care contributes significantly to the problem of health disparities currently facing racial and ethnic minority groups in the United States (US). Evidence shows that improved diversity among medical providers contributes to higher satisfaction for minority patients and better educational experiences for trainees.


      Our aim was to describe the racial and ethnic composition of medical students, Emergency Medicine residents, and practicing Emergency Medicine Physicians as compared with other specialties and the US population.


      A cross-sectional analysis of the most recent data available from the Association of American Medical Colleges and the US Census were used to determine the racial and ethnic distribution of the US population, medical students, residents, and practicing physicians. The Association of American Medical Colleges' definition of under-represented minorities (URMs) for the years studied included individuals of black, Latino, and Native-American race and ethnicity. Proportions with 95% confidence intervals were calculated. χ2 analysis was used to compare groups.


      URMs comprised 30% of the total US population, yet only 6% of all practicing physicians and 9% of Emergency Physicians self-identified as URMs. By comparison, 15% of medical students, 17% of all residents, and 14% of Emergency Medicine residents were URMs (p < 0.0001).


      Emergency Medicine, like other specialties, lacks the racial and ethnic diversity seen in the US population. Efforts to improve diversity at the resident level are limited by the number of URM students in medical school, and should include steps aimed at addressing this issue.


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