Posted on June 9, 2022

The Percentage of Black Male Doctors in the US Is the Same Today as in 1940

Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, June 7, 2022

The history of medicine in the US is inextricably linked with the legacy of slavery and racism.


A tested—and easy—way to improve the health of Black patients is rather intuitive: Have more Black physicians. Research has shown that Black patients treated by Black doctors tend to have better health outcomes, including because they trust their physicians more.

Yet as emergency physician and author Uché Blackstocks highlighted recently, the US has barely increased its share of Black doctors over the past 120 years.


A paper published last year in the Journal of General Internal Medicine looked at the representation of Black doctors from 1900 to 2018. The change was minimal—in 1900, 1.3% of the medical force was Black, and nearly exclusively male; that share had grown to only 5.4% in 2018—far below the Black population’s share of nearly 13%.