Infectious Disease

ID fellowship websites lack diverse, including language

April 21, 2023

2 min read

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Disclosures:
The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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Key takeaways:

  • Less than half of US-based ID fellowship programs had a dedicated diversity, equity and inclusion statement or webpage.
  • University-based programs had the most DEI-related content.

A review of US infectious disease fellowship programs showed that most have room to improve their websites to better display a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, which could help recruit more diverse physicians.

“Recruiting diverse physicians leads to better patient care and enriches teams. Women physicians and those underrepresented in medicine prioritize the climate for diversity when selecting their training programs,” Jessica S. Tischendorf, MD, MS, infectious disease professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, told Healio.

doctor on computer 2

Many US-based infectious disease fellowship programs are lacking diversity, equity and inclusion-based language on their websites and in their mission statements, which could prevent them from recruiting a diverse pool of physicians. Image: Adobe Stock.

“Climate is very challenging to communicate in the virtual interview format. Therefore, programs should look to all opportunities available to share their commitment to [diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI)] with prospective applicants,” Tischendorf said.

She added that one way to do this is through optimizing program websites.

To help assess the frequency at which adult ID fellowship program websites emphasized DEI ahead of the 2023 recruitment cycle, Tischendorf and colleagues evaluated adult ID fellowship programs in the US that participated in the National Resident Medical Matching Program for July 2022 appointment start.

According to the study, the researchers then conducted website reviews between March and April of 2022 in anticipation of the 2023 recruitment cycle, to assess for DEI content variables, including a legal statement of nondiscrimination, visa sponsorship information, biographies and photographs of current fellows and faculty; inclusion of DEI language in fellowship mission statement; a separate DEI statement for the fellowship; a separate DEI page within the fellowship website; whether a DEI officer or committee existed at the fellowship or division level; and whether groups were available to support women, racial and ethnic minority, sexual and gender minority physicians and physicians with disabilities.

In total, 154 adult ID fellowships were included in the study, 149 of which had dedicated webpages. The average number of DEI content variables was 5.51, with university-based programs — which accounted for 69.5% of programs assessed — having more DEI content variables on program websites. The assessment showed that more than 50% of websites had faculty and fellow photographs and biographies, visa information and a legal statement of nondiscrimination.

Additionally, J1 visas alone were supported by 57.1% of ID fellowships assessed, whereas 36.4% supported both J1 and H1B, and 6.5% did not support a visa of any type. However, they also found that less than 50% of US programs included DEI-oriented language in their mission statement or had a dedicated DEI statement or webpage.

Based on these findings, Tischendorf said that most US-based adult ID fellowships can improve their program websites to better display their commitment to DEI, which she said may assist in recruiting diverse physicians, particularly given the emphasis on websites with virtual recruitment.

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