Lack of Diversity in Pediatrics

A recent study published in the AAP Journal Pediatrics found a lack of diversity among individuals holding leadership positions in the field. The study surveyed a group of pediatric chairs in the United States, asking a series of self-report questions about diversity in their departments.

While 75% of pediatric residents are women, only 54% are faculty and a fewer 26% are chairs. Racial and ethnic diversity is even more limited among trainees, faculty and leaders: fewer than 10% of each group was African American, Hispanic or Native American. Although Asian Americans are represented in greater numbers among trainees (15-33%), their representation drops significantly when faculty and leadership positions are examined (0-14%).

Ineffective Diversity Plans

Three-quarters of respondents reported "having a plan for diversity, which targeted racial; ethnic; gender; lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender; disabled; and social class groups." Despite a clear lack of diversity in leadership positions found by the study, 69% of chairs reported that diversity efforts in their own departments are successful.

Pediatrician-Patient Disparity

In 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that of children under age 1 as of July 1, 2011, 50.4 percent were minorities.  As the diversity of the patient population increases, the lack of diversity at the top of the field becomes increasingly concerning.

In a 2013 Policy Statement, the AAP addressed the need for increased diversity, stating that "the health of all children depends on the ability of all pediatricians to practice culturally effective care." Specific issues related to care noted in the policy statement include the linguistic challenges faced by families who have immigrated to the U.S., as well as the unique needs of homeless children (who often experience higher rates of trauma-related injuries).

Patient satisfaction is lower for minority families, the statement reports. "Black and Hispanic parents of children with special health care needs report higher dissatisfaction with care and more difficulties navigating services for their children compared with their white counterparts."

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