Objective Test Scores Throughout Orthopedic Surgery Residency Suggest Disparities in Training Experience.
Diversifying clinical residencies, particularly in fields that are historically dominated by majority male (M/M) cohorts, is critical to improve both the training experiences of residents and the overall physician workforce. Orthopedic surgery in particular has low numbers of females and under-represented minorities (F/URM) at all levels of training and practice. Despite efforts to increase its diversity, this field has become more homogeneous in recent years. To highlight potential barriers and disparate training environments that may contribute to this dynamic, we present 25 years' worth of institutional data on standardized exam performance throughout residency. We report that despite starting residency with standardized exam scores that were comparable to their M/M peers, F/URM orthopedic surgery residents performed progressively worse on Orthopaedic In-service Training Exams throughout residency and had lower first pass rates on the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery Part 1. Given these findings, we propose that disparate performance on standardized test scores throughout residency could identify trainees that may have different experiences that negatively impact their exam performance. Shedding light on these underlying disparities provides opportunities to find meaningful and sustained ways to develop a culture of diversity and inclusion. It may also allow for other programs to identify similar patterns within their training programs. Overall, we propose monitoring test performance on standardized exams throughout orthopedic surgery residency to identify potential disparities in training experience; further, we acknowledge that interventions to mitigate these disparities require a broad, systems wide approach and a firm institutional commitment to reducing bias and working toward sustainable change.
Foster, N; Price, M; Bettger, JP; Goodwin, CR; Erickson, M
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