Monday, May 18, 2015

A Lack of Black Doctors

My favorite show of all-time is Grey's Anatomy. I love every part of the show, especially the characters and relationships on it. So when I saw an article about African American doctors, it immediately caught my eye. Off of the top of my head, I can count around 6 black surgeons and main characters on the show. The show has explored some race issues in episodes regarding black surgeons and white patients, but I don't think it has ever really emphasized the problem that seems to be present in our society. "In virtually every field of medicine, black patients as a group fare the worst". Why is this the case?

The author of this article says that although the usual reasons are valid, like poverty, lack of access to proper medical care and unhealthy lifestyles, another reason may be the low percent of black doctors. Black patients, in general, feel more comfortable with black doctors. They are less trusting of physicians and medicine than any other race. This may be because of their history with medicine, as stated in the article, but I personally do not know enough about the subject to make any inferences as to why they might be less trusting. However, as you can imagine, this often hurts them in the long run. By refusing medical treatment and being suspicious of their doctor's intentions, they are only hurting themselves.

An easy solution to this problem seems to be to increase the amount of black doctors in black communities. In the 2011-2012 school year, only 7% of medical students in America were black. Shockingly, this is progress for America; there were only 2% enrolled in med school in 1968-1969. I wonder if social class and wealth is a factor in this as well, possibly because of the high cost in medical school and the people that can or cannot afford it. Here lies the problem: black patients want black doctors, who rarely exist in black communities. "More black doctors practice in high-poverty communities of color, where physicians are relatively scarce". This doesn't leave many doctors for the middle class African-American community, which may be the source of this problem.

So is there a solution? I don't know if there is. It's a little startling to me to see that people would risk their health and safety just because they might have negative suspicions about their doctor. However, I can see the other side as well. I don't think there is a clear answer here, but I hope in the future that our society can move past these still-present race issues. Having a personal, trusting relationship with your physician is important, and I don't think anything should be in the way of this relationship.

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