Previous studies on attrition from MD-PhD programs have shown that students who self-identify as Black are more likely to withdraw before graduating than Hispanic students and students not from groups underrepresented in medicine (non-UIM). Here, we analyzed data collected for the National MD-PhD Program Outcomes Study, a national effort to track the careers of over 10,000 individuals who have graduated from MD-PhD programs over the past 60 years. On average, Black trainees took slightly longer to graduate, were less likely to choose careers in academia, and were more likely to enter nonacademic clinical practice; although, none of these differences were large. Black graduates were also more likely to choose careers in surgery or internal medicine, or entirely forego residency, and less likely to choose pediatrics, pathology, or neurology. Among those in academia, average research effort rates self-reported by Black, Hispanic, and non-UIM alumni were indistinguishable, as were rates of obtaining research grants and mentored training awards. However, the proportion of Black and Hispanic alumni who reported having NIH research grants was lower than that of non-UIM alumni, and the NIH career development to research project grant (K-to-R) conversion rate was lower for Black alumni. We propose that the reasons for these differences reflect experiences before, during, and after training and, therefore, conclude with action items that address each of these stages.


Myles H. Akabas, Lawrence F. Brass


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