Minorities Underrepresented in New York State Physician Workforce, Study Finds
Few minorities in New York state are entering the health care field despite an increase in the number of minorities moving there, according to a study recently published by the University at Albany's Center for Health Workforce Studies, the Albany Times Union reports. According to the report, between 1995 and 2006, minority group populations grew by nearly five percentage points in New York -- from representing 28.3% of the general population in 1995 to 32.9% in 2006. Meanwhile, the state's minority physician population increased by 2.5 percentage points -- from 7% to 9.5% of all doctors.
Minority physicians are more likely to practice in underserved communities and serve a higher percentage of Medicaid beneficiaries, according to the Times Union. In addition, many minorities prefer to be treated by a doctor who has the same racial or ethnic background.
Language and financial barriers, rigorous training schedules, and a lack of encouragement from community and family members have been linked to low numbers of minorities in medical professions, the Times Union reports. Steven Stain, professor and chair of surgery at Albany Medical Center and president of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons, said that potential medical students need to be encouraged and mentored at the college level, particularly by minority faculty members. Center Director Jean Moore said minorities might be entering the health care field as nurses instead of physicians or specialists.
Medical societies and national groups have established programs to encourage students to pursue science and medical careers before entering college. In addition, other groups have established programs to train existing physicians in cultural competency (Hong, Albany Times Union, 3/29).
The report is available online.