Little progress in increasing the number of black doctors


By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, April 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) – The percentage of American doctors who are black has barely increased in the last 120 years and there is still a large pay gap between black and white doctors, according to a new study.

Analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from 1900 to 2018 included about 150,000 physicians, with about 3,300 black physicians and 1,600 black physicians.

The study “The findings demonstrate the slow progress and the speed and distance we have to go if we care about the diversity of the physician workforce and the benefits that this diversity brings to patients, especially minority patients.” , said the study’s author. Dan Ly. He is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 1900, almost 12% of the American population was black, but only 1.3% of doctors were black. In 1940, almost 10% of the population was black, but less than 3% of doctors were black. Of these, 2.7% were men and 0.1% were women, according to the study.


In 2018, approximately 13% of the U.S. population was black, but only 5.4% of physicians were black. Of these, 2.6% were men and 2.8% were women.

Although the percentage of black female doctors increased by almost 3 percentage points between 1940 and 2018, the proportion of black male doctors remained essentially unchanged during that time, according to the study.

The study also found that, adjusted for inflation, the median income gap between black and white male physicians was about $ 68,000 in 1960. This wage gap narrowed slightly in 2018, to $ 50,000, but it remains worryingly large, Ly said.

This pay gap could be due to a combination of pay discrimination and unequal access for physicians to careers in better-paid medical specialties, he suggested.

“If medical leadership takes the task of making the physician workforce more representative of the general population serious, much more effective policies need to be conceptualized and implemented,” Ly said in a UCLA press release.


The findings were published on April 19 in Journal of General Internal Medicine.

More information

The RAND Corporation has more information on diversity Health care in the US.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, press release, April 19, 2021

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