August 5, 2021
N Engl J Med 2021; 385:487-489
Now that the 2021 U.S. residency-program match is over, program directors are assessing the success of their diversity-recruitment efforts. In the wake of historic racial unrest and a subsequent recommitment to racial equity by academic medical centers, many program directors embraced holistic reviews of applicants, highlighting talents and skills (e.g., grit) that are frequently overlooked in standard review processes. Residency programs sought to broaden racial and ethnic representation by hosting diversity fairs, revising mission statements to promote inclusive learning environments, adding antiracism statements to their websites, and promoting community service on social media. We are proud that 11 of 22 program directors at our institution, the University of Chicago, opted not to use U.S. Medical Licensing Examination scores for interviewee selection or candidate ranking. In our internal medicine residency program, 84% of applicants belonging to groups that are underrepresented in medicine interviewed with at least one faculty member from an underrepresented group, and 11% interviewed with two such faculty members.
In recruiting diverse intern cohorts, residency programs have made an unspoken promise to provide a safe space for trainees to flourish. Breaking this promise will contribute to medicine’s damaging legacy of discrimination. Keeping this promise will begin healing a wound that must be closed in our generation — and could inspire the rest of the country to begin healing as well.