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Report: Number of Underrepresented Minority Physicians Remains Far Less Than Corresponding Proportion of New York's Population

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Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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African American Physician listens to baby's heart rate.

A new report by UAlbany's Center for Health Workforce Studies finds that minority doctors are far more likely to work with patients covered by Medicaid and in federally-designated primary care shortage areas.

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 22, 2010) -- The number of underrepresented minority (URM) physicians has not increased substantially over the past decade and remains far less than their corresponding proportion in the state’s population, according to a new report from UAlbany’s Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS). The study also found that URM physicians are more likely to practice in a primary care specialty and work in hospitals and clinics, and are also more likely to serve patients covered by Medicaid, and work in areas of the state that are federally designated as primary care shortage areas.

Underrepresented minorities (URMs) include Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives. Physicians who are Asian/Pacific Islanders are not considered underrepresented since they comprised approximately 7 percent of the state’s population in 2008 but represented 20 percent of the physician workforce in that same year.

"The findings of this analysis suggest that URM physicians, who improve the diversity and cultural competency of the physician workforce, can potentially increase access to care and quality of care for underserved populations in New York," said Jean Moore, director of CHWS, part of UAlbany's School of Public Health.

Among the findings:

  • New York’s physicians continue to be less diverse than the state's population. While the percent of URM physicians has increased slightly in New York since 1995, it was still substantially smaller than their proportion in the state's population.
  • URM physicians are more likely to be female and younger compared to all other physicians. URM physicians have a lower median age than all other physicians (47 versus 50) and are more likely to be female (45 percent versus 28 percent). Similarly, a higher percent of newly-trained URM physicians are female (55 percent) compared to all other newly-trained physicians (44 percent).
  • URM physicians are more likely to report a principal specialty in primary care or obstetrics/gynecology (ob/gyn) compared to all other physicians. Thirty-eight percent of URM physicians report practicing in primary care specialties compared to 27 percent of all other physicians. This trend is likely to continue, with 45 percent of newly-trained URM physicians reporting a primary care or ob/gyn specialty compared to 31 percent of all other newly-trained physicians.
  • URM physicians are more likely to practice in hospitals and clinics compared to all other physicians. Forty percent of URM physicians report practicing in either hospitals (inpatient units, emergency departments, or outpatient settings) or clinics compared to 28 percent of all other physicians.
  • URM primary care physicians are more likely to practice in federally designated primary care shortage areas compared to other physicians. In 2007, a higher percentage of URM physicians in primary care, ob/gyn, and geriatric specialties (52 percent) practiced in primary care health professional shortage areas compared to all other physicians in the same specialties (25 percent).
  • URM physicians are more likely to serve a higher percentage of Medicaid patients in their practices compared to all other physicians. About one-third of URM physicians in the state report patient case loads of at least 50 percent Medicaid patients compared to 12 percent of all other physicians.

The Center for Health Workforce Studies is a not-for-profit research organization whose mission is to provide timely, accurate data and conduct policy-relevant research about the health workforce. The Center's work assists health, professional, and education organizations, policy makers and planners, and other stakeholders to understand issues related to the supply, demand, distribution, and use of health workers.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.

Francelina Morillo, '10, majoring in psychology and biology
UAlbany Students

"I want to make the world a better place. I want to inspire other people like myself, who've faced adversity and persevered and continue to pursue their dreams," said senior Francelina Morillo.

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