Crain’s New York: More diversity is needed among state doctors

Photo of a Black doctor
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The latest report from the Center for Health Workforce Studies found that not only are job prospects worsening for New York’s medical residents but a lack of diversity among the resident population is also persistent.

It is a problem because outcomes are improved when patients can access care from doctors from a similar racial or ethnic background. Research has shown the mortality rate for Black babies is improved dramatically when Black doctors care for them after birth, and cardiovascular mortality rates for Black men are improved when they see Black doctors.

To address disparities, we need to increase diversity in medicine. That requires providing support for aspiring doctors from underrepresented backgrounds throughout their education, years before they get to residency.

Diversifying the pipeline of students entering and graduating from medical school requires a multifaceted approach of programs and scholarships. Thankfully, Gov. Kathy Hochul and the state Department of Health recognize the necessity, and this year New York doubled its investment in diversity-in-medicine pipeline programs run by the Associated Medical Schools of New York.

Such efforts work. First-year medical students from backgrounds underrepresented in medicine recently exceeded 20% in New York state for the first time since the metric was tracked. Increased commitment to diversity-in-medicine programs will lead to a shift in the demographics of early-career doctors and ultimately improve health care in New York.

Jo Wiederhorn is president and CEO of The Associated Medical Schools of New York