Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Expanding Educational Access in Plastic Surgery
Waverley Y. He, B.A.1, Alex Karius, B.S.1, Sai Pinni, B.S.2, Jonlin Chen, B.S.1, Wilmina N. Landford, M.D.1, Franca Kraenzlin, M.D.1, Carisa M. Cooney, M.P.H.1, Kristen P. Broderick, M.D.1
1Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; 2Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
Background: Pipeline programs, or initiatives that expand educational access, play a crucial role in recruiting applicants underrepresented in medicine (URM). Visiting elective scholarships for URM students lessen the financial burden of away rotations, and virtual rotations provide mentorship and departmental exposure to a larger and potentially more diverse student audience. Our aim was to review the landscape of initiatives designed to expand educational access and with the potential to enhance diversity among integrated plastic surgery residency programs, including visiting elective scholarships for URM students and virtual rotations.
Methods: We reviewed integrated plastic surgery residency program websites and Instagram accounts in February 2021 for 2020-2021 academic year information and again in May 2021 for 2021-2022 academic year information. We assessed for the presence of visiting elective scholarships for URM students and virtual rotations. We also collected data on city population, geographic region, program type and size, Doximity rankings by reputation and research output, department chair/division chief and program director gender, and percentage of full-time female faculty and residents. We evaluated for associations between educational access initiatives and program characteristics using chi-squared and t-tests. Significance was set at p<0.05.
Results: A total of 82 integrated plastic surgery residency programs were reviewed. For the 2020-2021 academic year, 23 (28.0%) programs were associated with visiting elective scholarships for URM students that could be applied toward plastic surgery sub-internships. However, 21 of these were institution-wide, 2 were surgery-specific, and none were PRS-specific. Nineteen (23.2%) programs offered virtual rotations; these were more likely to be located in larger cities (p<0.001) and at universities (p<0.027) and to be ranked on Doximity in the Top 20-40 by reputation (p<0.001) and in the Top 20 by research output (p=0.026). For the 2021-2022 academic year, 7 (8.5%) programs developed PRS-specific visiting elective scholarships for URM students; these were more likely to be ranked on Doximity in the Top 20 by reputation (p=0.026). Four (4.9%) programs continued to offer virtual rotations and none created new virtual rotations.
Conclusions: Our findings demonstrate that virtual rotations were most popular during the 2020-2021 academic year, when away rotations were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As limitations on away rotations have eased for the 2021-2022 academic year, integrated plastic surgery residency programs have shifted toward developing visiting elective scholarships for URM students. The rise of these pipeline programs highlights the systematic effort displayed by residency programs toward attracting diverse trainees interested in our field.
Back to 2021 Abstracts