Surgeon General: More effort needed to recruit minority docs

Noting that the number of minority physicians has held steady at 6 percent for a century--though blacks and Hispanics account for about 28 percent of the U.S. population--newly-arrived Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin is calling for greater efforts to draw minorities into medicine.

It is critical to encourage young minority students to consider careers in medicine, Benjamin told a recent gathering on health disparities taking place this week in Atlanta. She didn't discuss any specific policy prescriptions for accomplishing this goal, though given this speech it seems likely that she'll make the growing problem of disparity in care and outcomes a key part of her mission.

While there's no direct evidence that the ethnicity of physicians directly affects the way they treat patients, huge disparities in care and outcomes exist between white and minority patients. The CDC notes, for example, that African-American and Hispanic children represented more than 80 percent of pediatric AIDS cases in 2000 and that African-Americans are more than twice as likely as whites to have diabetes.

To learn more about this issue:
- read this USAToday piece

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