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Latinos Underrepresented in Medicine, Dentistry, and Registered Nursing in New York

While the percentage of Black and Hispanic physicians has increased slightly, their percentages remain substantially lower than their representation in the state’s population.

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 31, 2017) -- A recent study conducted by the University at Albany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) found that Hispanics/Latinos are underrepresented in the medical, dental, and registered nursing (RN) workforce of New York State, compared to their presence in the general population.

Researchers compared data from 2 time periods (2006-2010 and 2011-2015) to assess trends in racial/ethnic and gender diversity in the 3 health professions. Findings from this study are detailed in a recent research brief, Trends in Health Professions Diversity in New York: Medicine, Dentistry, and Nursing.

Among the key findings:

  • While the percentage of Black and Latino physicians increased slightly between the 2 time periods, their percentages are substantially lower than their representation in the state’s population.
  • Like physicians, the percentage of Black and Hispanic dentists was significantly less than their presence in the state’s population, with little change between the 2 time periods.
  • Latinos were underrepresented in the state’s RN workforce, while the percentage of Black RNs was comparable to their presence in the general population.
  • Asians were overrepresented in all 3 professions, compared to their presence in the general population.
  • The percentage of female dentists in New York rose by nearly 5 percent between the 2 time periods.

There has been longstanding attention to the importance of diversity—both racial/ethnic and gender diversity—within the health professions. Health workforce diversity has the potential to increase access to and improve the quality of health services.

First, recruiting more underrepresented minorities and promoting gender balance in the health professions, at a minimum, assures the adequacy of health workforce supply, while addressing concerns about social justice.

Second, as the population of the country grows increasingly diverse, there is greater emphasis on assuring a culturally competent health workforce that is better equipped to meet the needs of the population.

"Over the past decade, there have been many efforts to support improvements in the diversity of health professions in the state and across the country," said CHWS Director Jean Moore. "It’s important to understand where progress is being made and which health professions still need improvements in order to better meet the health care needs of the population."

The Center for Health Workforce Studies, established in 1996, is based UAlbany's School of Public Health. Its mission is to provide timely, accurate data and conduct policy relevant research about the health workforce. Its research supports and promotes health workforce planning and policymaking at local, regional, state, and national levels.

The research brief can be found on the CHWS website at www.chwsny.org.

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