BACKGROUND - Underrepresentation of minorities within academic surgery is an ever present problem with a profound impact on healthcare. The factors influencing surgery residents to pursue an academic career have yet to be formally investigated. We sought to elucidate these factors, with a focus on minority status.
METHODS - A web-based questionnaire was sent to all administered to all ACGME-accredited general surgery programs in the United States. The main outcome was the decision to pursue a fully academic versus non-academic career. Multivariable logistic regression was used to identify characteristics impacting career choice.
RESULTS - Of the 3,726 residents who received the survey, a total of 1,217 residents completed it - a response rate of 33%. Forty-seven percent planned to pursue non-academic careers, 35% academic careers, and 18% were undecided. There was no association between underrepresented minority status and academic career choice (Odds Ratio = 1.0, 95% Confidence Interval 0.6 - 1.6). Among all residents, research during training (OR=4.0, 95% CI 2.7-5.9), mentorship (OR=2.1, 95% CI 1.6-2.9), and attending a residency program requiring research (OR=2.3, 95% CI 1.5-3.4) were factors associated with choosing an academic career. When the analysis was performed among only senior residents (i.e., 4 and 5 year residents), a debt burden >$150,000 was associated with choosing a non-academic career (OR=0.4, 95% CI 0.1-0.9).
CONCLUSIONS - Underrepresented minority status is not associated with career choice. Intentional recruitment of minorities into research-oriented training programs, increased mentorship and research support among current minority residents, and improved financial options for minorities may increase the number choosing an academic surgical career.