Too Few Blacks, Hispanics Pursuing Careers in Medicine

Careers in Medicine
Careers in Medicine

(HealthDay News) — Too few members of certain minority groups are pursuing careers in U.S. medicine, resulting in a serious lack of diversity among general practitioners and specialty doctors, according to a research letter published online August 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Publicly reported data gathered by researchers showed that in 2012, blacks made up 3.8% of practicing physicians, 5.8% of trainees in graduate medical education, and 6.8% of medical school graduates. The overall population of the United States was 15% black in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanics made up 5.2% of practicing physicians, 7.5% of graduate medical education trainees, and 7.4% of medical school graduates. Their share of the total U.S. population is about 17%, according to 2013 census figures.

"My father graduated medical school in 1960, and at that time only 3% of doctors were black," Wayne Riley, MD, MPH, MBA, president of the American College of Physicians and a clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told HealthDay. "This study shows 3.8% of doctors are black. We've had barely perceptible progress. Over a 50-year period, we are still nowhere near African-American and Latino physicians representing their percentage of the population."

Women have successfully made inroads into medicine, according to the study findings. For example, women now represent 48.3% of medical school graduates and 46.1% of trainees in graduate medical education. Women also are the majority in seven specialties among graduate medical education trainees, including obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, dermatology, family medicine, and pathology.

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