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Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Representation and Salary among Academic Cardiothoracic Surgeons

Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Representation and Salary among Academic Cardiothoracic Surgeons

The American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. A wealth of data has shown that diversity in the physician workforce improves patient care, safety, physician well-being, and innovation; and fair compensation is essential to culturing a diverse workforce.

To learn more about how race and ethnicity are related to compensation, diverse group of academic cardiothoracic surgeons led by Cherie P. Erkmen, MD, of Temple University, looked at the racial and ethnic representation among academic cardiothoracic surgeons. The group also analyzed salaries of cardiothoracic surgeons based on race/ethnicity.

Dr. Erkmen and her team looked at cross-sectional data collected by Association of American Medical Colleges Faculty Data for U.S. Medical Schools, which reported academic rank, race/ethnicity, and mean and median compensation. Their analysis reveals low diversity in the cardiothoracic workforce, especially at the advanced academic rank of professor. Black/African American cardiothoracic surgeons had lower salary than their colleagues, a difference that persisted at all academic ranks. Hispanic/LatinX and Asian cardiothoracic surgeons at lower academic ranks also experienced salary disparity, but equal or greater salaries compared with their colleagues when achieving the academic ranks of associate professor or professor. According to Dr. Erkmen, “These data demonstrate that the relationship between race/ethnicity and compensation is complex. Future studies are needed to understand mechanisms of salary disparity.” Dr. Erkmen concluded, “Our profession and our patients will benefit from a diverse workforce. Hopefully our work will someday lead to the development of best practices for equitable compensation that will support all cardiothoracic surgeons.”

Dr. Erkmen will present this study on Saturday, May 6, at the AATS 103rd Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.

Ethnicitya Overall Professors Salary comparisonb

White 65% 78%

Asian 25.2% 15% 71-102%

Hispanic/Latino 4.0% 3% 86-130%,

Black/African American 3.3% 2% 76-85%

a1.5% were multiple/other race and 0.4% were American Indian/Alaskan Indian.

bPercentage of the mean and median salary earned by White cardiothoracic surgeons.