Not Enough Latino Doctors
It’s a known fact that patients feel more comfortable talking about personal health issues with physicians of the same race. Especially among the older Hispanic community, there is a language barrier. Sometimes there are things that you would like to discuss, but you just don’t know how to explain it in English because it’s easier in Spanish. When you have a Hispanic or Latino doctor your appointment is more intimate, you feel more comfortable speaking to someone who shares a similar cultural background as you. Unfortunately, this is a problem in the U.S because currently there is decline in Latino doctors and they just can’t keep up with the demand.
According to new research from the UCLA’s Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture, the number of Latino doctors has declined over the last 3 decades. With the rise of the Hispanic community, the need for doctors to meet the demands is extremely high. The number of Latinos in the United States has risen 243% since 1980, but the number of Latino physicians per 100,000 Latinos has declined by 22%. The study also found that Latino patients that have limited English-language skills visit their doctor less often than those that speak English fluently.
The problem lies in the amount of time students in invest in studying to be doctors, which is at least 7 years. Even though medical schools have increased their enrollments over the past 10 years, unless congress lifts the cap on residency training slots they won’t be able to increase the overall supply of physicians. The fact is that going to school means many years of being in debt because medical school is extremely expensive. The average debt is over $150,000. The problem is not only financing, but can go back as far as high school because Latino students are less likely to take honors or advanced placement classes that put them at a disadvantage early on.