Health Sciences Diversity

Physician Diversity Quality Improvement Process

The Physicians Diversity Quality Improvement Process was undertaken to better understand the experiences and decision making of under-represented minority physicians (half African American and half Hispanic) to:

  • enroll at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • stay at UPMC/PITT for their residency/clinical fellowships, or to become and progress as PITT/UPMC faculty members.

By project design, half of these physicians elected to stay at UPMC/PITT following their initial experience at this academic medical center while the other half chose to leave to pursue further training, clinical practice, teaching or research elsewhere. This report details relevant in-depth personal interviews conducted with a representative sample of 38 such African American and Hispanic physicians.

Diversity Committee of the Physician Services Division - UPMC

This report is about diversity, particularly about recruiting, retaining and promoting the professional success and advancement of diverse physicians, especially those who are under-represented minorities within the UPMC/University of Pittsburgh (PITT) academic medical center.

The values and benefits of having such a diverse group of physicians at the trainee level (i.e. medical students, residents and clinical fellows) as well as at the faculty level are several.  These include better preparing the physician work force, both majority and minority trainees, to be exceptional physicians, ready, willing and able to advise, counsel and treat the diverse population of colleagues, employees and patients whom they will encounter throughout their professional careers.

To accomplish this goal UPMC and PITT equally desire not only to increase the numbers of under-represented minorities within this academic medical center but also to ensure their training and subsequent physician experiences are productive and fulfilling ones.  Diversity is a matter not only of equity and equal opportunity but also of service and business success.

To better understand the experiences and decision making of under-represented minority physicians to enroll at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, to stay at UPMC/PITT for their residency/clinical fellowships or to become and progress as PITT/UPMC faculty members this report details relevant in-depth personal interviews conducted with a representative sample of 38 such African American and Hispanic physicians.  Half of these physicians were African American and half Hispanic.  By project design, half of these physicians elected to stay at UPMC/PITT following their initial experience at this academic medical center while the other half chose to leave to pursue further training, clinical practice, teaching or research elsewhere.

The participation rate of under-represented minority physicians potentially eligible for this quality improvement effort was excellent.  Excluding the medical school/residency graduates who could not be located or who were on leave, we interviewed thirty-eight (38) of the forty nine desired physician interviewees, or seventy eight percent (78).

Executive Summary

Tis brief Executive Summary cannot capture and do justice to many of the findings, save to note that they were reasonably consistent across all the physicians interviewed and at all career levels reported, i.e., by medical students, residents/clinical fellows and faculty. As elaborated in much greater detail in the full report, several key findings are noted here:

  • Respondents agreed that there was little or no (minimal) “overt” discrimination experienced during their tenure at UPMC/PITT, such as unequal treatment, active exclusion or racial biases.
  • The overwhelming quality of the educational and academic experience was highly valued.  This held true for all respondents regardless of their decision to stay or leave UPMC/PITT after medical school or residency/clinical fellowship.
  • Highly noticeable to the interviewees was the lack of diversity within the organization at all levels:  their cohorts, departments/specialties, faculty, and staff and, above all, organizational physicians and other leadership at both UPMC/PITT School of Medicine.
  • The above observation and the interviewees’ own experiences caused many of these physicians to wonder whether it was really possible to progress, grow, and achieve career success and satisfaction at this medical center.  This type of observation affects retention.
  • Effective mentorship was perceived to be the key to success for everyone, especially minorities.  However the mentor needs to be outreaching, influential and viewed as an “insider” to make things happen.  Effective mentorship requires a “meeting of the minds” wherein both mentor and mentee are “on the same page” early on and then during the mentoring experience.

For a full copy of the Executive Summary, contact the Office of Health Sciences Diversity at 412-648-2066, or diversity@hs.pitt.edu. Study participants may request a full copy of the report from the UPMC Physician Services Division at 412-647-8166.