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Med Students Struggle with Lack of Diversity in Dermatology

Medical students find an overwhelming lack of diversity in the dermatology field, according to a research letter recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

The survey was filled out by 155 students from 28 medical schools. Approximately 60 percent of respondents were non-white, and 16.8 percent were low-income students (meaning a household income less than $40,000 a year). They rated each question on a Likert scale, with 1 indicating not important and 5 being very important.

On average, Latino students rated lack of diversity in dermatology at 4.5 and similarly, low-income students considered it a 4.41. White students, on the other hand, qualified the issue with 3.25 and students coming from high income households rated it 3.13. When it comes to access to mentors, Latino students rated the category at 4.79 and low-income students graded it 4.71. Participants also reported that there’s a negative perception of minority students by residency programs, and African Americans rated the problem 3.91, Latino students gave it 4, and low-income students rated it 4.19.

“As the US population becomes increasingly diverse, the specialty of dermatology has not followed this trend; it is the least diverse medical field, after orthopedics,” wrote the letter’s authors. “Efforts should be made to increase minority students’ exposure to dermatology by incorporating it into the curriculum, providing research opportunities, and reducing the cost of 'visiting electives' by providing stipends.”

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