Why Are There So Few Minority Dermatologists?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Yssra-SolimanYssra S. Soliman, BA
Division of Dermatology, Department of Internal Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, New York

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

Response: As the population of the United States becomes increasingly diverse, certain fields within medicine have not followed this trend. Dermatology is the least diverse field after orthopedics. We wanted to understand what barriers prevent medical students from applying to dermatology and whether these barriers differed based on students’ racial, ethnic or socioeconomic backgrounds.

The main findings of this study are that certain groups are more likely to cite specific barriers than non-minority students. These barriers are significant deterrents to applying to dermatology and include the lack of diversity in dermatology, negative perceptions of minority students by residency programs, socioeconomic barriers such as lack of loan forgiveness and poor accessibility to mentors. 

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

Response: We hope that this study sparks conversation and initiative around this topic in medicine. Diversity in medicine is important for many reasons.

The data shows that when healthcare providers are representative of their patient population, the result is in higher quality medical care and patient satisfaction.

Furthermore, minority medical students are likely to demonstrate cultural competency, resiliency and “grit” in a way that translates to strong, trusting relationships with their future patients. Similarly, these students are likely to practice medicine in areas that are underserved, further bridging gaps in healthcare. 

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

Response: I hope that future studies demonstrate the effect of initiatives targeted to increasing minority interest in fields such as dermatology, in an evidence-based fashion. Also, I hope that we can show in the literature how this translates to higher patient care.

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: My hope is that this study sparks dialogue in the medical school and residency program settings. There are many steps that academic faculty can take to improve diversity within medicine including formal faculty-student mentoring, research opportunities and providing financial stipends to students interested in scholarly activity or audition electives. 


Soliman YS, Rzepecki AK, Guzman AK, et al. Understanding Perceived Barriers of Minority Medical Students Pursuing a Career in Dermatology. JAMA Dermatol. Published online January 09, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.4813 

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Last Updated on January 13, 2019 by Marie Benz MD FAAD