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The emergency medicine (EM) physician workforce is largely composed of white men. Despite recruitment efforts over the past decade, there has not been a significant increase of trainees with underrepresented racial and ethnic identities in EM (URM). Prior studies have focused on institutional strategies to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in EM residency recruitment but have been limited in describing URM trainees’ perspectives. We sought to assess URM trainees’ perspectives on DEI in the EM residency application and selection process.
This study was conducted at an urban academic medical center in the United States from November 2021 to March 2022. Junior residents were invited to participate in individual semistructured interviews. We used a combined deductive–inductive approach to categorize responses in predetermined areas of interest then elicit dominant themes within each category through consensus discussions. Thematic saturation was reached after eight interviews, indicating adequate sample size.
Ten residents participated in semistructured interviews. All identified as racial or ethnic minorities. Three dominant themes emerged relating to authenticity, representation, and being treated as a learner first. Participants assessed the authenticity of a program's DEI efforts by evaluating the time frame and scope of DEI efforts. Participants reported a desire for representation of other URM colleagues in a residency program and training environment. While participants wanted their lived experience as URM trainees acknowledged, they were wary of being viewed solely through the lens of future DEI leaders rather than as learners first.
URM residents value multifaceted commitment to DEI efforts, representation, and being seen as learners first when assessing residency programs. Programs seeking to recruit URM residents should develop a department-wide, multipronged, comprehensive DEI plan and showcase how their program will contribute to an applicant's professional development.
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