National trends in distribution of underrepresented minorities within United States general surgery residency programs: A longitudinal panel study

Published:January 11, 2023DOI:


      • Providers attuned to a patient's cultural heritage enhance the patient's experience.
      • Lagging diversity among surgeons foments racial/ethnic inequities in surgical care.
      • Minority representation within surgery residency was examined from 2005 to 2019.
      • Program applicants increased in diversity but actual minority recruitment stagnated.
      • Surgery residency diversification efforts must be expanded to be effective nationally.



      Cultural affinity with a provider improves satisfactoriness of healthcare. We examined 2005–2019 trends in racial/ethnic diversity/inclusion within general surgery residency programs.


      We triangulated 2005–2019 race/ethnicity data from Association of American Medical Colleges surveys of 4th-year medical students, the Electronic Residency Application Service, and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-affiliated general surgery residencies. Temporal trends in minority representation were tested for significance.


      Underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities in medicine (URiMs) increased among graduating MDs from 7.6% in 2005 to 11.8% in 2019 (p < 0.0001), as did their proportion among surgery residency applicants during 2005–2019 (p < 0.0001). However, proportions of URiMs among general surgery residents (≈8.5%), and of programs without URiMs (≈18.8%), stagnated.


      Growing URiM proportions among medical school graduates and surgery residency applicants did not improve URiM representation among surgery trainees nor shrink the percentage of programs without URiMs. Deeper research into motivators underlying URiMs’ residency program preferences is warranted.


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