Sexual identity may impact career trajectory among medical students, study finds

Medical students identifying as sexual minorities are underrepresented in undergraduate medical training and among certain specialties following graduation, according to a study published Sept. 30 in JAMA Network Open.

Using anonymized, self-reported data from Association of American Medical Colleges between 2016 and 2019, researchers conducted a study survey of 58,572 students aiming to identify the distribution of sexual minority students in intended specialties. 

Three takeaways: 

  • Sexual minority female medical students were more likely to intend to practice in surgical specialties and less likely to intend to practice in primary care specialties compared to their heterosexual female peers.
  • Sexual minority male medical students were more likely to intend to practice in primary care specialties and less likely in surgical care specialties compared to their heterosexual male peers. 
  • Sexual minority female medical students may be underrepresented in undergraduate medical training, as only 5.7 percent identified as sexual minorities compared to the estimated 9.4 percent of women that identify as sexual minorities in the general population.

Researchers said limitations to the study included a lack of gender identity data, delineation of gender from sex assigned at birth and intersectionalities between multiple minority identities.

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