Only 5 percent of doctors in the U.S. identify as Black.
This is Race and Medicine, a series dedicated to unearthing the uncomfortable and sometimes life-threatening truth about racism in healthcare. By highlighting the experiences of Black people and honoring their health journeys, we look to a future where medical racism is a thing of the past.
Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, racism and anti-Blackness are being examined in many American industries: healthcare is one of them.
In addition, the way in which COVID-19 has specifically impacted Black Americans now makes the inherent racism within healthcare very clear.
The current pandemic is exposing the consequences of racial discrimination within healthcare industries at every level. However, anti-Blackness in medicine and other related health disparities is nothing new for Black people.
The medical field has historically been an industry that perpetuates neglect and prejudice towards Black patients. There is also a notable lack of Black representation in active doctors and physicians in the United States.
According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), in 2018 only 5 percent of all active physicians in the United States identify as Black or African American compared to 56.2 percent of active physicians in America who are white.
The lack of Black doctors and medical staff who have the ability to recognize health concerns in Black patients may have life threatening consequences.
Misogynoir, a term coined by Moya Bailey that means hatred of Black women, continues to perpetuate medical harm.
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To combat the effects of racism and lack of Black representation in the medical field, there are a number of organizations advocating for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students and doctors with the goal of breaking barriers and diversifying the healthcare industry.
Here are some of the organizations doing the work to make sure the future has more Black doctors and healthcare professionals.
The Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS) has been advocating to “improve health, advance science, and foster careers of African American and other underrepresented minority surgeons” for over three decades.
In addition to diversifying faculty in academic surgery, SBAS seeks to promote their members into leadership positions as well as eliminate health disparities against BIPOC patients.
SBAS values mentoring its members in fellowship programs to achieve the goals stated in the organization’s mission statement.
Membership benefits for students within SBAS include access to the organization’s resources for the opportunity to enter their chosen medical profession and prepare for residencies.
They also offer access to a network of like-minded colleagues within the organization, opportunities to save money through SBAS student members-only programs, and more.
The Association of Black Women Physicians (ABWP) is a nonprofit organization networked by Black women to support BIPOC