Little Progress in Boosting Numbers of Black Doctors

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay reporter

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

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

The study “The results demonstrate how slow progress has been, and how far we need to go if we are concerned about the diversity of the medical workforce and the health benefits that this diversity brings to patients, especially patients. belonging to minorities, ”said study author Dr Dan Ly. He is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

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


In 2018, about 13% of the American population was black, but only 5.4% of doctors were black. Of these 2.6% were men and 2.8% were women.

While the percentage of black female doctors increased by nearly 3 percentage points between 1940 and 2018, the proportion of doctors who are black men remained essentially unchanged during that time, according to the study.

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

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

“If medical leadership is serious about making the medical workforce more representative of the general population, much more effective policies must be conceptualized and implemented,” Ly said in a press release from UCLA.


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

More information

The RAND Corporation has more on diversity in healthcare in the United States.

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

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