University of Wisconsin–Madison Medical College of Wisconsin

Perceptions of the Minority Tax Experienced by Faculty and Students Underrepresented in Medicine at the University of Wisconsin

Eden F. Charles, BA; Sharon-Rose Nartey, MD; Elizabeth A. Felton, MD, PhD; Elizabeth M. Petty, MD

WMJ. 2024;123(2):113-119

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Introduction: The minority tax in academic medicine can be defined as the additional responsibilities placed on underrepresented in medicine (URiM) faculty, staff, and students in the name of diversity. Often this looks like participating in additional diversity committees, recruitment efforts, and mentorship activities. These extra responsibilities often are not recognized, not included in promotions, and take time from other clinical, research, and traditional scholarly responsibilities.

Objectives: There is a significant gap in the literature examining the experiences of URiM-identifying faculty and students in relation to the minority tax. Our goal was to do a quality improvement project to explore this gap through interviewing URiM-identifying faculty and conducting focus groups with URiM-identifying students, with the goal of making recommendations to help reduce the minority tax burdens to this community.

Methods: A scoping literature review on the minority tax burden in academic medicine was used to inform the development of questions to use in focus groups of URiM University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH) students and interviews of URiM UWSMPH faculty members. After development of a facilitation guide, we conducted three 1-hour focus groups with 14 students who identified as URiM and did eight 30-minute interviews with faculty who identified as URiM. A codebook was generated using inductive analysis after reviewing transcripts. Coding was performed independently with 2 separate coders in order to ensure inter-coder reliability.

Results: Ninety-one percent of students and 62.5% of faculty endorsed experiencing the minority tax at UWSMPH. Faculty also reported increasing feelings of support due to UWSMPH programs that support URiM faculty. Students reported the minority tax being central to their role as URiM students. Both students and faculty reported that the additional burdens of the minority tax took time away from traditional scholarly activities that were essential for promotion (faculty) or residency (students).

Conclusions: The minority tax burden experienced by URiM faculty and students may negatively affect their careers, as they note spending more time on activities that may not be valued for promotion. It is essential to address these burdens in order to achieve equity within the medical institution.

Author Affiliations: University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin (Charles, Nartey, Felton, Petty).
Corresponding Author: Eden F. Charles, email; ORCID ID 0009-0003-8254-2160
Funding/Support: Eden Charles was supported by the Herman and Gwendolyn Shapiro Foundation through a summer research award. Elizabeth Petty, MD, was supported in part by the Kern National Network – Kern Family Foundation for work related to character, caring, and human flourishing.
Financial Disclosures: None declared.
Acknowledgements: The authors thank Jason Stephenson, MD (UWSMPH) and Medical Student Arissa Milton, BS (UWSMPH) for their invaluable contributions to this manuscript.
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