Neurological interest and career exploration among black medical students: Perceptions and solutions for the pipeline.
PURPOSE: The goal of this study was to identify factors that influence the selection of Neurology as a career choice for Black medical students. METHODS: Survey data was collected from attendees at a national educational conference and at a large academic medical school. Two proportion z-tests were used to assess responses among students of different racial/ethnic backgrounds. RESULTS: 199 students participated in the survey. Compared to their Asian and White counterparts, Black students were significantly less likely to choose or consider a career in Neurology. In addition, we found that these students relied more heavily on their pre-clinical experiences to make this determination, citing preference for another specialty, lack of exposure, a preference for a different patient population, and a lack of racial/ethnic diversity as key reasons to not choose a career in Neurology. CONCLUSIONS: Neurological disorders are important contributors to morbidity and mortality. It is imperative that the field attract medical students toward careers in Neurology, particularly those students from traditionally and persistently underrepresented backgrounds. Our findings suggest that Black medical students consider Neurology as a specialty choice less frequently than their counterparts do, and this decision may be made prior to training. We conclude that a multifaceted approach is best to improve the racial/ethnic diversity within the neurological workforce, which should include targeted interventions prior to and after matriculation to medical school.
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