While Latino population grows, number of Latino physicians shrinks
Latinos may have taken the United States by storm in art, music and television — women like Gina Rodríguez (Puerto Rican actor and Golden Globe winner for her leading role in “Jane the Virgin”) or Colombian-born Sofía Vergara, are the best examples of Latino's ascendancy. Unfortunately, medicine is not one of the fields where Latinos are succeeding.
This is one of the conclusions of a study from UCLA's Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture. The paper reports that despite the fact that Latinos are one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States, the number of Latino physicians is not only not swelling, it is shrinking. In 1980 there were 135 Latino physicians for every 100,000 Latinos in the United States; by 2010, the ratio had dropped to 105 per 100,000. At the same time the number of non-Hispanic white physicians kept growing — from 211 per 100,000 in 1980 to 315 per 100,000 in 2010. In other words, there was a 22 percent drop in Latino physicians while non-Hispanic white physicians had an increase of 49 percent.
"Our research finds a very concerning trend of a growing Latino population that may not have the ability to find physicians who can provide language and culturally concordant care,” said Dr. Gloria Sanchez, the paper's lead author. "It demonstrates the urgent need for analysis of how the rapidly growing Latino population will have adequate access to high-quality care both now and in the future.”
For the study, an update of 2000 research by David Hayes-Bautista (director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, and co-author of the new paper), researchers took U.S. Census data from 1980 through 2010 in five states with large Latino populations — California, Florida, Illinois, New York and Texas. The data shows, for example, that in states like California, while Latino were 30.4 percent of the state's population, only 4.8 percent were Latino physicians.
And the future could be worse, because the study also projected that the number of Latino physicians in California would decrease a 6 percent by 2020.