The Association of Black Cardiologists, concerned about the lack of diversity in cardiology training programs, has launched a new diversity and inclusion scorecard initiative. The group wants to highlight examples of programs done well so others can emulate their techniques.
While medical schools across the country have been doing better at diversity in general, they have been faring poorly in certain subspecialities. For example, while African Americans make up 13 percent of the population, they make up only 3 percent of cardiologists, according to 2015 data. To help funnel more Black medical students into cardiology, the Association of Black Cardiologists recently launched a diversity and inclusion scorecard for academic cardiovascular training programs in the US.
“Given the concerns about pipelines for underrepresented minorities in medicine, especially for Blacks and Hispanics, we thought it was important for us to shine a light on this,” said Dr. Michelle A. Albert, MPH, ABC president and associate dean of admissions for the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.
The scorecard will look at fellowship programs, which train cardiologists following medical school and residency programs. The scorecard will rate these programs in four areas: number of underrepresented in medicine (UIM) students; the change in the number of UIM students over the lifecycle of the program; trainees’ assessment of a sense of belongingness (i.e., how welcome they feel in that program); and number of UIM faculty overall, as well as in leadership spots in the program.
Albert said that applicant diversity can be robust in the very top ranked medical schools. “The problem is, how do you translate [that] into a successful conduit across the academic life course to engender diverse faculty and leadership?”
She hopes the answer comes in the form of the scorecard. “Our goal is not to shame people, but to move the needle forward and engender conversations about structural factors that impede the programs, about factors that impede growth of the pipeline,” Albert said. “We want to have the various stakeholders come forward with actionable solutions.”
In addition, Albert wants to be able to look at programs that are doing well and help pass on that information to programs that are not. This model has some success in the past with ABC. In 2006, the organization conducted a study to determine the most and least inclusive training programs. The results prompted Ohio State University to improve the diversity of its cardiology program, going from having never trained a Black cardiologist prior to 2007 to winning ABC’s 2012 Diversity in Cardiology award.
The scorecard is being compiled by a working group made up of ABC staff and members. However, this won’t be an easy task: Since a repository with this information doesn’t exist currently, Albert said the group will be contacting programs and trainees to get the various data points needed for the scorecard.
“This is going to require a lot of work,” Albert said. “Our members are very much in support of this, and our goal is to have the scorecard information available on an annual basis starting next year.”