HealthDay News — Minority medical students report a variety of barriers to applying for a dermatology residency, according to a research letter published online Jan. 9 in JAMA Dermatology.

Yssra S. Soliman, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, and colleagues examined the lack of diversity and barriers to applying for a dermatology residency among 155 medical students who completed a survey between January and April 2018. Participants rated survey items on a Likert scale ranging from 1 (not important) to 5 (very important).

The researchers found that 43.2 percent of the participants expressed an interest in applying for a dermatology residency. Overall, participants cited U.S. Medical Licensing Examination Step 1, clinical grades, and risk for not matching as the most important factors for applying to a dermatology residency (4.91, 4.7, and 4.53, respectively).

 The lack of diversity in dermatology was cited as a significant factor by students with lower incomes and ethnic minorities; Hispanic/Spanish/Latino students and those with household incomes between $20,000 and $40,000 had the highest scores (4.5 and 4.41, respectively). Students reported that residency programs had negative perceptions of minority students, such as expecting lower performance. 

Socioeconomic barriers such as lack of loan forgiveness were more likely to be cited among racial minorities and low-income students, with the highest scores for those identifying as other race (4.5) and those with household incomes less than $20,000 (4.78). Poor accessibility to mentors was also reported.

“The perceived barriers differ by the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds of students and highlight the need to actively recruit and mentor students of all backgrounds,” the authors write.

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