Diversity’s Next Frontier: Careers in Academic Medicine

By Sophia Shapiro

How can we hope to diversify medical schools without diversifying their leadership? How can we hope to diversify their leadership without recruiting diverse medical students to academic medicine? We can’t.

Although students are introduced to various careers in medical school in the form of specialties, academic medicine as a career is rarely formally included. Encouraging diverse medical students, including women; members of racial and ethnic minorities; lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender students; and members of other underrepresented groups is especially important due to the lack of diversity in the academic workforce.

Building the Next Generation of Academic Physicians (BNGAP) is a collaborative initiative of numerous institutions and national organizations to encourage diverse students to consider academia. To complement a recent Academic Medicine essay, we created a six-minute educational video with BNGAP collaborators, highlighting diverse student and faculty leaders calling for medical students to consider the relevance and benefits of pursuing academia.


Recently, 90 students evaluated the video at the Latino Medical Student Association and Student National Medical Association annual conferences. We asked students what they learned from the video were and what should be added. Students reported that expanding diversity in academic careers is crucial, given workforce disparities in academia. They felt future videos should include a clearer picture of what careers in academic medicine and public health look like, potential barriers to those careers, how to build mentor relationships, and how to ensure religious diversity in academia.

This feedback will help us continue to create engaging videos for medical students and educate them about the importance of academic medicine. By showing how academia can influence changes in medicine, we can persuade a more diverse community of medical students that their involvement and passion is needed as health care continues to evolve.

Shapiro Headshot smallSophia “Yoshi” Shapiro is a second-year medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She was a History of Science, History of Medicine Major at Yale, graduating in 2011. She has been active in LGBT awareness and organizing for many years, and plays in the Premier National Rugby League for the New York Rugby Club.