It is no secret that the medical field has a long history of mistreating African Americans. From horrific experiments on enslaved people to the forced sterilizations of black women and the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study, it is clear that the medical establishment has not always been a safe space for black people. However, recent studies have shown that black patients do better when treated by black healthcare workers, and this has led to a push for more representation in the medical field. A Stanford University study matched black men in Oakland, California with black doctors.
The results showed that these men were more likely to be involved with their healthcare and even consented to preventive services such as cardiovascular screenings and immunizations. This is just one example of how representation in healthcare can lead to better health outcomes and lower medical bills. The authors of the Stanford study also examined data collected from the generation of 1975 medical school graduates by the American Association of Medical Colleges. They found that black adults and those with lower levels of health literacy were more likely than whites and those with higher health literacy to report feeling less susceptible to getting sick with COVID-19. Additionally, black patients made up 56% of the patient populations of black physicians, compared to 8% to 14% of other physicians' cases.
Programs to increase the number of underrepresented minority physicians have been the subject of much debate in recent years. Patients of minority physicians, including black, American Indian, Asian, and others, were compared to patients of white doctors. The results showed that minority physicians had some success in recruiting by listening to and responding to people's concerns. However, distrust of the health system persists even among some black medical professionals such as Oni Blackstock, M.
D., who is an emergency medicine physician and public health expert. This distrust is understandable given the history of mistreatment by the medical establishment. Studies have found that African Americans consistently receive insufficient treatment for pain relative to white patients; one revealed that half of medical students and residents held one or more false beliefs about alleged biological differences between black and white patients, since the former have a greater tolerance to pain than the latter. A recent article on cultural competence in medicine reveals the many ways in which an individual's beliefs can affect him or her as a patient.
Therefore, it's not surprising that only 42 percent of African Americans said in November that they would be willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Additional variables related to medical practice options were then added to this base model, including specialty, practice environment, location of urban, rural, or suburban practice, respondents' educational debt, participation in a service program, and type of medical school. It is clear that representation in healthcare is essential for improving health outcomes for African Americans and other minority groups. Healthcare systems and providers are working hard to gain trust from these communities by listening to their concerns and providing culturally competent care. It is also important for public health authorities to continue their efforts to convince African Americans to accept new vaccines.