No Post-Racial America: Racial Inequalities in US Medicine

Over at, Gail Zoppo has an important post—“Is There a Black, Latino Doctor in the House?”– on the huge problem of lack of people of color in U.S. medical schools and professions. Racial inequality remains central in the medical professions and facilities in this “post-racial America.” We still have relatively few black, Latino, and Native American medical students across the country. Zoppo underscores the slow pace of improvement, noting that three years these groups made up only 15 percent of the 40,000 applicants to U.S. medical schools, even as they make up a third of the U.S. population in their typical age range. (She does not discuss data on Asian Americans in her post.) This is a key result from this longterm reality:

That same year, only 8.7 percent of doctors were from these underrepresented groups, according to a study published in the Journal of Academic Medicine.

She then discusses where we are at in the recent American Association of Medical Colleges data, just slight changes since 2006:

Among the 42,269 med-school applicants in 2009, only 16 percent were Black, Latino or American Indian.

Other medical professions are also characterized by a lack of black, Latino, and Native American personnel:

… a mere 6.9 percent of people from underrepresented groups ended up as dentists in 2007, only 9.9 percent were pharmacists and just 6.2 percent were registered nurses.

One national issue is also that white medical personnel are much less likely to work in undeserved communities of color:

Black, Latino and American Indian/Pacific Islander physicians are nearly three to four times more likely than whites to practice in underserved communities, reports the AAMC.

On the positive side, Zoppo does discuss some important attempts to deal with this underrepresentation in medical schools and professions, such as the Rutgers University Office for Diversity and Academic Success in the Sciences (ODASIS)


  1. Maria

    The legal profession doesn’t look much better with regards to representation. Though a bit dated now, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession of the American Bar Association found that as of 2000, all racial and ethnic groups combined comprise only about 10 percent of lawyers and judges nationally. More recent figures from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicate African Americans represent four percent, Latinos represent three percent, and Asian Americans comprise six and a half percent of the legal profession nationally. No post-racial America yet!


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