New report highlights lack of minorities in medicine

07/19/04

Massachusetts efforts to have national implications

(BOSTON, MA) — A new report highlighting the lack of diversity throughout Massachusetts' physician workforce was released today by the Physician Diversity Project at Health Care For All. The report, "Physician Diversity in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: Where Are We? What Can Be Done?", analyzes physician diversity within the state by examining the roles of medical schools, teaching hospitals, secondary education and the state's practice environment.

The report highlights the ever-increasing gap between the number of racial and ethnic minorities in Massachusetts and the number of underrepresented minority medical students and physicians in the state. The public health implications of this gap include disparate health outcomes among racial and ethnic populations, lower rates of patient satisfaction, and significant linguistic barriers to health care access. There are broader implications as well since Massachusetts medical schools and teaching hospitals contribute significantly to the physician workforce nationwide.

"This a groundbreaking report. Physician diversity is a critical component of eliminating health disparities in Massachusetts," State Representative Peter J. Koutoujian, Chairman of the House Committee on Health Care said. "This document will play a crucial role in the discussions and deliberations of the Special Commission to Eliminate Health Disparities."

Governor Mitt Romney signed the special commission into law in April 2004 with the goal of developing a comprehensive statewide approach to eliminating health disparities.

Some key findings in the report:

  • While people of color make up just over 50% of Boston's population, no teaching hospital reports an underrepresented minority physician makeup of more than 10%.
  • Only one of five of the Black, Latino and Native American students accepted into Massachusetts medical schools pursue their medical education in the state.
  • Only 33% of physicians trained in Massachusetts remain to practice in the state, well below the national average.
  • By the time a student entering medical school in 2004 becomes a full-fledged physician in 2015, Massachusetts will have 422,000 more Black and Latino residents.

    "Physician diversity is not just important for Blacks, Latinos and other underrepresented minorities in medicine. It has important public health implications for the Commonwealth as a whole," Daniel J. Delaney, Health Care For All's director of minority health policy stated. "When minorities don't get quality, timely, and culturally appropriate care it reduces their quality of life and further burdens an already strained health care system."

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