Journal of Wellness


Introduction: Minority tax is defined as the burden of time and resources placed on minority persons to represent and advocate for their communities. We determined whether medical students underrepresented in medicine (URM) or from historically excluded (HE) populations experience a minority tax and characterized its effects.

Methods: This cross-sectional survey of US medical students occurred November 2020 - June 2021. We used Mann-Whitney U tests to compare metrics between URM and HE participants and their peers. The primary outcome was time invested in activism/diversity initiatives versus other work. Secondary outcomes included measures of microaggressions, discrimination, institutional culture, anxiety/depression, mentorship, and sleep. We performed thematic analysis of open-ended questions about participants’ experiences with minority tax.

Results: A total 282 students included 39 (13.8%) URM and 150 (53.9%) HE participants. Compared to peers, URM and HE participants invested an additional 36.4 (p = 0.005) and 46.8 (p = 0.006) annual hours on advocacy and 62.4 (p < 0.001) and 41.6 (p = 0.001) annual hours on diversity initiatives, respectively. URM and HE participants reported more microaggressions / discrimination, less inclusive environments, and no differences in access to mentorship or sleep. Six themes were evident: (1) URM and HE students feel obligated to do diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) work, (2) students doing DEI work experience minority tax, (3) minority tax is negatively associated with wellness, (4) learning environment changes may mitigate minority tax, (5) there is a demand for increased representation and improved DEI education, and (6) an increased DEI budget might reduce the minority tax for students.

Conclusion: URM and HE medical students experience a minority tax that may affect their wellbeing. These findings should serve as a call for action by medical school leaders.





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