The physician workforce in the United States consists of just under 9 percent of physicians who identify as black, Native American, Alaska Native, Hispanic or Latino. This is not representative of the makeup of the US population. For example, blacks make up 13 percent of the national population, but only 4 percent of the physician workforce.
Aside from the barriers of acceptance, underrepresented students face barriers regarding matriculation due to the financial burden of the costs of medical school.
The success of efforts to address the overwhelming need to bring more minority individuals into the physician workforce will require mechanisms that recognize the need for multifaceted approaches.
According to the research conducted by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there are several important reasons why this is such as issue:
Increased access to healthcare. Disparities in health care by ethnic group are dramatic, with Latinos, African Americans and Native Americans in particular suffering from lack of access to healthcare professionals. AAMC research has found that minority doctors are more likely to practice in underserved areas and to work with other vulnerable populations such as ethnic minorities and indigent populations.
Increased patient satisfaction with healthcare. AAMC research has found that patients who are ethnic minorities are not only more likely to see a doctor of the same ethnic group as they are, but also more likely to rate themselves as satisfied with the health care that they receive.
Increased cultural competence. Increasing diversity on medical school campuses will help with the development of future physicians who have a high level of cultural competence to help them serve an increasing multicultural population.