Posted on March 1, 2022

We Need More Black Doctors

Princess Currence, Tribune News Service, February 25, 2022

A just-released report from Verywell, a website providing health and wellness information, found that half of Black Americans interviewed for the survey agree that “the health care system is racist,” while one in three survey respondents say they have experienced racism while dealing with health care providers.


{snip} Systemic racism and time pressures in health care lead to racially biased physicians who lack the cultural competence needed to treat Black patients. While Black doctors help Black patients experience a higher quality of care, the pairing is difficult to make because of a shortage of Black doctors.

The shallow pool of Black doctors can be seen throughout the physician pipeline. Black Americans comprise roughly 13% of the U.S. population and have a medical school acceptance rate of 34% compared to the average of 41%, around where all other racial and ethnic groups fall.

Research from The New England Journal of Medicine, which looked at data collected between 1978 and 2019, shows that Black and Latinx physicians in particular, remain underrepresented in the field: “In 1978, Black men accounted for 3.1% of the national medical student body. By 2019, the cognate figure was 2.9%.”

In total, Black people made up only about 6% of medical school graduates in the 2018-19 academic year.

Medical schools have tried to address the myriad of issues faced by Black students through holistic admission review processes, outreach activities and increased unconscious bias training. Still, more attention should be given to implicit bias in admissions and other factors that negatively affect the success of Black students at all academic levels in medical education.


According to the AAMC study, the U.S. would require approximately 118,000 Black physicians to achieve health care equity for Black patients by 2032. Since medical schools are only graduating fewer than 1,500 Black students a year, it would take nearly 40 years to accomplish this goal.