What is the Difference? Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Representation and Salary among Academic Cardiothoracic Surgeons

Presented During:

Saturday, May 6, 2023: 10:30AM - 10:45AM
Los Angeles Convention Center  
Posted Room Name: 406AB  

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Abstract Submission 


Cherie Erkmen (1), Walter Merrill (2), Leah Backhus (3), Valeda Yong (1), Kaleb Rostmeyer (4), Nielsen Gabriel (1), John Sadeghi (1), Grace Ma (4), David Cooke (5)


(1) Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, (2) Vanderbilt University Hospital, Nashville, Tennessee, (3) Stanford Hospital and ClinicsVeterans Affairs Healthcare System Palo Alto, Stanford, CA, (4) Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, (5) UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, DAVIS, Sacramento, CA

Submitting Author:

*Cherie Erkmen    -  Contact Me
Temple University Hospital


Walter Merrill    -  Contact Me
Vanderbilt University Hospital
*Leah Backhus    -  Contact Me
Stanford Hospital and ClinicsVeterans Affairs Healthcare System Palo Alto
Valeda Yong    -  Contact Me
Temple University Hospital
Kaleb Rostmeyer    -  Contact Me
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
Nielsen Gabriel    -  Contact Me
Temple University Hospital
John Sadeghi    -  Contact Me
Temple University Hospital
Grace Ma    -  Contact Me
Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University
*David Cooke    -  Contact Me

Presenting Author:

*Cherie Erkmen    -  Contact Me
Temple University Hospital


Objective: Diversity in the physician workforce improves patient care, physician well-being and innovation in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. Attaining workforce diversity is influenced by fair compensation that is unbiased by race or ethnicity. We examined the relationship between the race/ethnicity of academic cardiothoracic surgeons and salary compensation.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of data collected by Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) Faculty Data for U.S. Medical School Faculty 2021 which reports specialty as Thoracic and Cardiac Surgeons, academic rank, race/ethnicity, and mean and median compensation. Salary data were not available if an academic rank and race/ethnicity had fewer than 5 cardiothoracic surgeons. We used descriptive analysis of the number of faculty and median and mean salaries according to academic rank and compared them using a paired t-test.

Results: Of 786 cardiothoracic surgeons in academic medicine, 65.6% were White, 25.2% were Asian, 4.0% were Hispanic/Latino, 3.3% were Black/African American, 1.5% were multiple/other race and 0.4% were American Indian/Alaskan Indian. Cardiothoracic surgeons at the academic rank of professor were 78% White, 15% Asian, 3% Hispanic/Latino and 2% Black/African American. Asian cardiothoracic surgeons earned 71-102%, Hispanic/Latino cardiothoracic surgeons earned 86-130%, and Black/African American cardiothoracic surgeons earned 76-85% of the mean and median salary earned by White cardiothoracic surgeons. Black/African American cardiothoracic surgeons were consistently and significantly (p=0.002) earning lower median salaries compared to their White colleagues at every academic rank.

Conclusion: The academic cardiothoracic surgery workforce lacks diversity, especially at the highest academic rank of professor. Salary equity among races/ethnicities is complex, requiring additional study. However, Black/African American cardiothoracic surgeons experience low representation and salary disparity at every academic rank. This data informs principal parties who negotiate salary compensation of potential unconscious biases and establishes a need for assessment and mitigation of inequity based on race/ethnicity.


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Keywords - Adult