Calif. Looks to Multicultural Providers To Help Solve Doctor Shortage
Experts say that a growing physician shortage in California creates a unique opportunity to recruit more multicultural health care providers, the Sacramento Bee reports (Craft, Sacramento Bee, 8/11).
Details of Physician Shortage
Only 16 of the state's 58 counties have the supply of physicians recommended by the federal government, according to observers.
In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges says that nearly 30% of California's doctors are nearing retirement age (California Healthline, 7/18).
Meanwhile, observers say that the shortage of physicians could increase under the Affordable Care Act, which will offer health insurance to millions of additional state residents (California Healthline, 7/24).
Need for Multicultural Providers
According to federal research, patients are more likely to accept and adopt medical treatment from a provider who shares their background.
Kate Rubin -- president of the United Health Foundation -- said, "We know patients do best when they are treated by people who understand their language and culture."
However, the rate of multicultural health care workers is disproportionate to the demographics of the U.S. population, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
For example, only 5% of physicians and 4% of nurses are Latino, compared with 15% of the U.S. population.
Michael Rodriguez -- a family physician and professor at the UCLA Department of Family Medicine -- said, "We know that there's a growing need for physicians in general," adding that "California, more than anywhere else in the nation, has such a disproportionate need for a health care workforce that more closely mirrors the population."
To help address the need for more multicultural providers, the California Academy of Family Physicians has launched its Future Faces of Family Medicine program to recruit low-income and ethnic minority youths to the medical profession.
Rodriguez said that such individuals "are most likely to return" to their communities to serve and that "they have the patients' perspectives, the patients' values in mind" (Sacramento Bee, 8/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.