Factors that Influence Underrepresented in Medicine (UIM) Medical Students to Pursue a Career in Academic Pediatrics

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Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of medical students who are underrepresented in medicine (UIM) from two urban medical centers with an interest in pursuing academic pediatrics. Methods: Focus groups were conducted at Children's National Hospital (CN) at three different times with UIM medical students from two urban medical centers. The investigator team was comprised of both junior and senior UIM and non-UIM pediatric academic faculty with experience in qualitative research. Twenty medical students UIM from Howard University College of Medicine (HUCM) and George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (GWSMHS) participated in the focus groups. The medical students targeted were first, second and fourth years to review experiences pre-and post-third year clerkships. Results: Eighteen of the 20 students completed the demographic data of which 16 identified as Black/African-American. Fifteen of the participants were female and 3 were male. Findings indicated that mentorship, serving as role models, working with children and seeing UIM academic pediatricians positively influenced the students to pursue academic pediatrics. Family had a major influence on students’ interest to pursue medicine. A barrier to pursuing academic pediatrics for UIM medical students included educational debt and lack of knowledge about the field. The students felt that there were fewer expectations of them during secondary school years which affected them throughout their journey to medical school. Conclusions: Early mentorship for UIM medical students is important to increase exposure to academic pediatrics. Future study on the experience of UIM medical students and their pursuit of academic roles could help produce a more diverse workforce. Also, pipeline programs for students to be exposed to academic pediatrics early in their education career would be beneficial.

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