‘New Direction’ Needed To Boost Number of Minorities in Medical Professions, Editorial Says
While finding a physician is "relatively simple, finding one who understands the patient -- and who can be understood by the patient in return -- is the tougher task when language and culture stand in the way," an East Brunswick Home News Tribune editorial states. The editorial adds, "Familiarity breeds comfort, comfort creates trust, and trust inevitably leads to better care and health." However, "it hasn't been so easy to close that divide despite the best efforts to grow the numbers of minority physicians, notably those who are black and Latino," the editorial says.
Only 3.5% of U.S. physicians are black, while blacks make up 12.3% of the U.S. population, according to a 2004 survey from the American Association of Medical Colleges. There is a similar gap among Hispanic doctors and the Hispanic population in the U.S., according to the editorial. In 1975, the proportion of medical school students who were minority students peaked at 8.1%, though that percentage has "leveled off and ... might have fallen," the editorial says.
According to the editorial, "Part of the problem is undoubtedly that medical schools aren't seeing enough qualified minority applicants knocking on their doors. Maybe that's because, at least in part, young black and Latino students aren't encouraged to enter the medical field, or perhaps it is due to a lack of suitable pre-med programs and guidance offered in high schools where minority students happen to be concentrated."
The editorial states, "Either way, a new direction is in order" (East Brunswick Home News Tribune, 12/19).