Majority of CVD Program Directors Feel Diversity Needs to Increase, Many Not Sure How

Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Diversity is important to cardiovascular disease (CVD) programs directors (PDs) and PDs are striving to increase diversity in their programs through recruitment and strategies directed toward the fellowship learning environment, according to results of the second annual Cardiovascular PDs Survey, which were published Aug. 31 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

The ACC's Cardiovascular PDs and Graduate Medical Educators Member Section administered the survey to better understand why women and minorities are underrepresented in CVD specialties.

Julie B. Damp, MD, FACC, et al., examined characteristics of the CVD learning environment that may impact diversity and strategies used by PDs to approach these issues by administering a 34-question survey to PDs based in the U.S. The researchers wanted to understand PDs' perceptions of diversity in CVD and related characteristics of the CVD fellowship learning environment that may impact diversity.

Of the 138 PDs who responded to the survey, 86% of them felt diversity in CVD as a field needs to increase and 70% agreed that training programs could play a significant role in this. The survey showed that 35% of PDs said their programs aim to increase diversity and have a plan to do so, but 36% also said their programs aim to increase diversity and are not sure how to do so. PDs who were women, led programs with underrepresented minorities fellows, or were with larger programs were more likely to agree that training programs can play a significant role in increasing diversity, and these programs are more likely to report diversity in their programs.

Results showed that 89% of PDs have used a strategy to increase diversity in fellowship recruitment. Researchers found that common strategies to increase diversity include highlighting the diversity of the faculty or fellows during the interview day, prioritizing diversity in developing the Match List and prioritizing diversity when offering interview invitations.

Other questions included in the survey sought to examine barriers for diversity of fellowship, support systems for underrepresented groups and resources for diversity. Among resources identified to facilitate efforts to increase diversity in recruitment and optimize the learning environment were best practices for interviewing and evaluating candidates, implicit bias training, guidance for establishing mentoring programs, and policies addressing parental leave and harassment.

"All of us need to work harder towards a better professional experience for ourselves and the next generation, including work life balance/integration, family friendly schedules and leave policies, and zero tolerance for harassment and racism," write Pamela S. Douglas, MD, MACC, and Mary Norine Walsh, MD, MACC, in an accompanying editorial comment. "Cardiovascular leaders – division chiefs, practice managing partners, service line directors – need to own this problem and make themselves accountable for creating needed change. Program directors cannot do this alone, nor should they have to. Now is the time for all of us to engage."

Keywords: Fellowships and Scholarships, Racism, Mentors, Work-Life Balance, Cardiovascular Diseases, Parental Leave, Education, Medical, Graduate, Mentors, Faculty, Minority Groups, Health Surveys


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