More Latino Doctors Needed to Serve Growing Population

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015
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The US is not producing enough physicians domestically to serve the country’s growing Latino population, according to a recent analysis published by the journal Academic Medicine. The Los Angeles Times reports

Combing through three decades of census data, Sanchez, Hayes-Bautista and other researchers found that the number of people in the U.S. who identified themselves as Latino or Hispanic grew 243% from 1980 to 2010, from just under 15 million to more than 51 million.

In 1980, there were 135 Latino doctors for every 100,000 Latinos in the U.S. By 2010, that number had fallen to 105. The ratio of non-Hispanic white doctors to non-Hispanic white patients, in the meantime, increased from 211 to 315 per 100,000.

When the researchers looked at the five states with the largest Latino populations in 2010 — California, Texas, Florida, New York and Illinois — the Golden State’s Latino-doctor-to-patient ratio ranked lowest, with 50 physicians per 100,000 people.

The article doesn’t discuss one of the potential options – international medical graduates from Spanish-speaking countries. A number of J-1 doctors from these countries are already serving Latino communities, but legislation to provide immigration incentives to attract these doctors to work in these communities could help. For example, expand residency training subsidies for doctors with Spanish-language skills and offer states more J-1 waiver slots for doctors with language skills going to work in communities where those language skills are most needed.