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December 27, 2016

Reducing Bias in Academic Search Committees

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family and Community Medicine, Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri
  • 2Department of Family and Community Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina
  • 3Department of Medicine (Cardiology), Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA. 2016;316(24):2595-2596. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.17540

Faculty members are often called on to serve and participate on search committees for deans, department chairs, leaders of centers of excellence, and senior-level positions in medical schools, academic hospitals, and health systems. These search committees are generally charged not only to find qualified candidates but also to consider diversity and inclusion in the process.

The demographics of the US population are changing. Reports from census experts suggest that as many as 40 million immigrants have arrived in the United States since the origin of the Immigration Act of 1965.1 Further, the non–US-born population is projected to reach nearly 19% of the total US population by 2060.2 The Latino/Hispanic population is now 17.6% of the US population and together with the black/African American population accounts for nearly 31% of all US residents.3 Additionally, according to the Pew Research Center, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing and best-educated racial ethnic group entering the United States.4 These facts, coupled with continued challenges with health disparities and minority underrepresentation in key allied health positions, require specific actions and policies to ensure diversity, inclusion, and unbiased hiring practices.