Factors Influencing Underrepresented Medical Students' Career Choice in Surgical Subspecialties

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



The Laryngoscope




career choice; female; gender and sexual minority; surgical subspecialties; underrepresented in medicine


OBJECTIVES: Surgical subspecialties rank among the least racially and gender diverse of the medical specialties. The purpose of this systematic review is to evaluate the current factors that influence female, gender and sexual minority (GSM), and underrepresented in medicine (URiM)-identifying medical students' decision to pursue a career in a surgical subspecialty. DATA SOURCES: A structured literature search of PubMed, Scopus, Web of Science, and Medline was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Criteria for eligibility included surveys and interviews assessing factors and barriers influencing underrepresented medical students' career choices. REVIEW METHODS: Two independent researchers screened the articles' titles and abstracts for relevance; three performed full-text reviews. RESULTS: Of 343 studies identified, 17 met the inclusion criteria. Fourteen (82%) were survey-based studies; three (18%) were qualitative interviews. Represented minorities included females (14), URiM (13), and GSM (4). Female medical students were most influenced by (1) exposure to surgery, (2) mentorship, and (3) surgical lifestyle. URiM medical students were most influenced by (1) mentorship, (2) culture and diversity, (3) research opportunities, and (4) personality fit. GSM medical students were most influenced by identity acceptance and instances of discrimination and bias. CONCLUSIONS: Our review provides granular data on positive and negative factors influencing career choice among underrepresented medical students to facilitate the development of a more diverse surgical workforce. Female medical students were more positively influenced by increased exposure to surgical subspecialties, whereas URiM medical students were more positively influenced by race-concordant mentorship. Laryngoscope, 2023.