Female Underrepresented-Minority Medical Students Report Highest Rates of Discrimination

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Katherine A. Hill, BA, BS
Yale School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Previous studies have shown that mistreatment is a common and damaging experience for medical students. However, there is little research on whether the prevalence of medical student mistreatment varies by demographic factors such as student sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation. 

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: We found that female, underrepresented minority (URM), Asian, multiracial, lesbian, gay, and bisexual medical students all reported a higher prevalence of mistreatment and discrimination than their male, white, and heterosexual counterparts. They were also more likely to report experiencing multiple types of mistreatment than their counterparts. Furthermore, their appeared to be a deleterious interaction between sex and race/ethnicity: female underrepresented minority students reported the highest rate of racial/ethnic discrimination, while white males reported the lowest rate. 

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The differential treatment reported by medical students in this study suggests a non-inclusive learning environment, which could have profound implications for the well-being and academic success of students. Going forward, schools should focus on creating a climate of equity and inclusion, rather than viewing diversity solely as a recruitment problem.  

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Researchers should identify medical schools that have excelled in creating inclusive and equitable learning environments in order to determine best practices that can be shared across medical schools. As medical schools strive to create more inclusive learning environments, investigation into the experience of mistreatment by additional student demographic characteristics, such as age, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, or disability may also be warranted. Additionally, people do not experience aspects of their identities in isolation.

Our analysis examining the intersection between underrepresented minority status and sex suggests that a student’s unique combination of multiple identities may contribute most significantly to mistreatment. Future studies should explore the effect of the intersectionality of student sex, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation on the prevalence of mistreatment.



Hill KA, Samuels EA, Gross CP, et al. Assessment of the Prevalence of Medical Student Mistreatment by Sex, Race/Ethnicity, and Sexual Orientation. JAMA Intern Med. Published online February 24, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2020.0030

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Last Updated on February 24, 2020 by Marie Benz MD FAAD