Just over 5% of US physicians is African-American. This startling statistic has, once again, led to the consideration of inhibiting factors that may occur decades earlier within the formal sphere of socialization, education, and resource accessibility of Black students.
One reason why the percentage of US doctors who are Black remains far below that of the US population that is Black can be traced to how Black people have been “historically excluded from medicine” and the “institutional and systemic racism in our society,” said Michael Dill, the Association of American Medical Colleges’ director of workforce studies. […]
“And it occurs over the course of what I think of as the trajectory to becoming a physician,” Dill said. At young ages, exposure to the sciences, science education resources, mentors and role models all make it more likely that a child could become a doctor – but such exposures and resources sometimes are disproportionately not as accessible in the Black community.
This doesn’t even take into account the raw number of Black females represented in medicine - a demographic which has also had to contend with sexism within the ranks of hierarchical ascension within medicine.
In 1940, only 2.8% of physicians were Black, but 9.7% of the US population was Black; by 2018, 5.4% of physicians were Black, but 12.8% of the population was Black.
“The more surprising thing to me was for Black men,” said Dr. Dan Ly, an author of the study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine and assistant professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Data on only Black men who were physicians over the years showed that they represented 1.3% of the physician workforce in 1900, “because all physicians were pretty much men in the past,” Ly said. Black men represented 2.7% of the physician workforce in 1940 and 2.6% in 2018.