Report shows racial disparity between California physicians and population

East Bay Business Times

A new study by the Center for California Healthcare Workforce Studies at the University of California San Francisco shows just how few minority physicians there are relative the overall population.

The report, called “Physician Diversity in California: New Findings from the California Medical Board Survey,” is the first analysis of data since the enactment of a Assembly Bill 1586 in 2001 requiring the California Medical Board to collect information about physician work hours, specialties, ethnicity, languages spoken and practice location.

The study shows that while Hispanics represent one-third of the state’s adult population, only 5 percent of California physicians are Hispanic.

And although blacks represent 7 percent of the adult population, blacks make up only 3 percent of California physicians.

About 2,034 black and 3,282 hispanic physicians treat patients in California, which has a population of more than 35 million. There are a total 38,859 white physicians statewide.

Also, according to the study, California has a shortage of doctors who are Samoan, Cambodian and Hmong/Laotian.

Minority physicians play a key role in underserved areas and are more likely than white doctors to work in primary care. For instance, over 40 percent of minority physicians practice in primary care fields compared with 30 percent of white physicians.

The disparity between minority physicians and the population is greatest in the Inland Empire, Los Angeles and the South Valley. For instance, in the South Valley, Hispanics represent 43.3 percent of the population but 8.1 percent of physicians are Hispanic.

In the Bay Area, Hispanics represent 19.7 percent of the population versus 3.6 percent of physicians.

Blacks represent represent 7.3 percent of the population in the Bay Area but only 2.9 percent of physicians here are black.

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