A paper just out in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine finds a striking state of segregation in American medicine: “Nonwhite physicians cared for 53.5% of minority and 70.4% of non–English-speaking patients,” sums up the study, which was led by Cambridge Health Alliance doctors.
And that racial-ethnic split has changed little since a similar look a quarter-century ago, the paper notes.
As Obamacare kicks in, the rolls of the newly insured are expected to include many members of minorities and recent immigrants. Those newly covered people are expected to boost the demand for doctors, particularly in primary care. But will they be able to get access to care?
From the press release:
“There is a lot of concern that there will not be enough physicians willing and able to care for them,” said Danny McCormick, MD, MPH, the study’s senior author, a physician at Cambridge Health Alliance, and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “In order to increase the number of Black and Hispanic physicians, medical schools will need to more fully consider the physician workforce needs of the health care system as a whole in admissions decisions.”
An accompanying commentary in JAMA Internal Medicine calls for medical schools to admit more minority applicants, even if some of their science and other academic scores are lower, because minority physicians show more commitment to serving poor and minority populations.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Lyndonna Marrast, argues similarly: “Medical schools need to redouble their efforts to recruit and train minority students,” she said, “and we need policies at both the federal and institutional levels on a much larger scale than what we have now.”
These efforts to train more minority doctors would be “stopgap measures,” she said, because “ideally, we would live in integrated neighborhoods and everyone would have equal access to health care. Instead, we have members of society who are from marginalized groups, often geographically and culturally isolated, and they have a hard time accessing health care.”
How about getting more white doctors to serve more minorities? Continue reading