Diversity by Race, Ethnicity, and Sex within the US Psychiatry Physician Workforce

July 23, 2020



This study assessed the distribution of race, ethnicity, and sex within the US psychiatry physician workforce and trends from 1987 to 2016.


The authors used physician workforce data to assess differences in race, ethnicity, and sex among psychiatric practicing physicians, faculty, fellows, residents, residency applicants, and medical graduate cohorts. Binomial tests were used for comparison between individual cohorts and to US population statistics. A simple linear regression model was used to assess trends among psychiatric residents and faculty over years 1987–2016.


Within psychiatry, historically underrepresented minorities in medicine (URMs) had less representation as residents (16.2%), faculty (8.7%), and practicing physicians (10.4%) compared with the US population (32.6%), Ps?<?0.0001. Females were underrepresented as psychiatric practicing physicians (38.5%, P?<?.0001). There was greater URM representation among residents (16.2%) compared with that of Psychiatry faculty and practicing physicians (Ps?<?.0001). Racial/ethnic representation did not differ significantly compared with subspecialty fellows; however, the addiction subspecialty contained the least URM and female diversity. Historical trends indicated the proportion of female faculty (0.9%/yr) increased nearly 1.5 times faster than that of female trainees (0.6%/year). Conversely, the proportion of URM residents (0.26%/year) increased over 4 times faster than that of URM faculty (0.06%/year), with black faculty actually decreasing in proportion.


Female and URM representation within the psychiatry physician workforce is significantly lower than US population demographics; however, trends indicate diminishing underrepresentation. While psychiatry residency remains more diverse than other specialties, specific trends identify poor minority representation among psychiatry faculty and fellows as areas needing attention.