Envisioning future selves: African American medical students on the path to careers in academic medicine

Marc Andre Nivet, University of Pennsylvania


The fact that only a small number of minorities serve as faculty members in the nation's medical schools is cause for serious concern. Although the United States has become more diverse, with African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans comprising 25% of the total population, minorities make up only 4% of the faculty in predominantly white medical schools (AAMC, 2005). Growing evidence suggests that increasing the diversity among the nation's medical school student body, and faculty membership would have a major positive impact on the health-care system in the United States. In this qualitative study, I investigated the socialization experiences of African American third- and fourth-year medical students who are determined to pursue a career in academic medicine. Using the conceptual framework of anticipatory socialization, this research sought to inform the practice of recruitment and retention of African American medical students in academic medical careers. Through in-depth one-on-one interviews, I explored the following questions: (1) What do African American prospective medical school faculty members perceive as the facilitators and challenges to careers in academic medicine? (2) What do they believe can be done to increase the representation of African Americans in the faculty pipeline and to enhance their experiences? Findings indicated that African American medical students believe that early exposure to faculty careers and structured mentoring programs, involving both multiple and peer mentors during medical school, is of paramount importance in assisting them along the pathway to a career in academic medicine. Furthermore, African American medical students shared that they have been witness to the mistreatment of current African American medical school faculty members. As a result, I adapt the theory "anticipatory nonsocialization" to ascribe meaning to the fact that African American medical students who aspire to careers as faculty members are anticipating socialization difficulties. However, despite their concerns, these African American medical students remain determined to pursue a career in academic medicine. The conclusions drawn from this study provide medical school leadership and faculty development administrators with guidance to create new and effective pathways to increase the number of African American medical school students pursuing careers in academic medicine.

Subject Area

Black studies|Health education|Higher education|African American Studies

Recommended Citation

Nivet, Marc Andre, "Envisioning future selves: African American medical students on the path to careers in academic medicine" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310481.