Minority Minority of U.S. Health Workers: Report
WEDNESDAY, March 31, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans are underrepresented in U.S. health care professions, with new evidence suggesting that diversity will improve.
In 2019, blacks accounted for about 12.1% of U.S. workers, but their representation in the 10 health professions studied ranged from 3.3% of physiotherapists to 11.4% of respiratory therapists.
“Our findings suggest that blacks, Latinos, and other people of color have been left behind in terms of health care professions,” said lead author Edward Salsberg, director of the Health Workforce Diversity Tracker project at George Fitzhugh Mullan Institute at George Washington University. Health Workforce Equity spoke in a note from the University of Washington, DC.
In 10 occupations – including doctors, nurses and pharmacists – the diversity index for blacks was 0.54. The diversity index of 1 means that the diversity of the entire workforce is the same in the profession.
In five of the 10 health professions, the representation of black workers among new graduates has been lower than in practice, suggesting that their representation in these professions may be even lower in the future.
In 2019, Hispanics accounted for 18.2% of U.S. workers, but their representation in the health professions ranged from 3.4% of physiotherapists to 10.8% of therapeutic respiration, resulting in a diversity index of 0.34.
The Native American population accounted for 0.6% of all U.S. workers in 2019, but their representation among the 10 occupations ranged from low to zero to 0.9%, achieving a diversity index of 0.54.
The findings were published online in the March 31 issue of the journal JAMA open network.
The researchers said their findings are important because a minority of health professionals play a key role in efforts to reduce the disproportionate burden of disease, including COVID-19, among communities of color.
“By creating more diverse health care workers, the United States would improve access and improve outcomes in underserved communities and high-need populations,” says study author Toyese Oyeyemi in a statement.
Co-author Maria Portela said the findings show that the roles of health care workers who require postgraduate training have a low representation of minorities behind their representation in the general population.
“This trend is unlikely to change unless attention and resources are provided to address it,” he said.
Oyeyemi and Portela are co-directors of the Mullan Institute’s Diversity Tracker project.
The RAND Corporation has more information on diversity US health care system.
SOURCE: George Washington University, news, March 31, 2021