Florida Health Care Professions More Diverse Than National Average, Report Finds
There is more racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals in Florida than there is on a national level, though universities in the state still have trouble recruiting enough minorities "to reflect the growing diversity in the state and in the nation," the Tallahassee Democrat reports. The topic of diversity in the medical profession was part of a discussion Monday at the Florida Alliance Initiative Conference.
According to a report by MGT of America, 31% of Florida's population is black, Hispanic or American Indian, compared with 25% of the population nationwide. Twenty percent of Florida's nurses, 22% of physicians and 23% of dentists are black, Hispanic or American Indian, according to the report.
Leela Hebbar, a senior analyst at MGT, attributed the figures to Florida's overall racial diversity, as well as high graduation rates in medical fields at historically black colleges and universities. According to the Democrat, the "numbers can be misleading because ... more than half of Florida's doctors, nurses and dentists are foreign-born." Among Florida's nonforeign-born physicians, 7% of physicians, 5% of dentists, 11% of registered nurses were black, Hispanic or American Indian, the report found. On a national level, 6% of physicians, 5% of dentists and 9% of registered nurses are minorities.
Henrietta Logan, a professor at the University of Florida who attended the conference, noted that there are fewer than 100 black dentists in the state and that 16% of black students interested in dentistry do not remain in Florida. Cynthia Balogh, principal at MGT, said that part of the problem is that Florida's schools succeed in helping minority students to graduate with bachelor's degrees but are not as successful in retaining them in graduate and professional programs.
Louis Sullivan, former HHS secretary and guest speaker at the conference, presented a national strategy to address the issue, including requiring diversity to be a part of accreditation standards, increasing financial assistance to minority students and exposing more minorities to health care professions. Diversity "should not be a casual objective," Sullivan said (Jefferson, Tallahassee Democrat, 6/19).