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Report: California Needs More Latino Doctors

A new report demonstrates the need for more Latino doctors in California. 

Nine percent. That’s the proportion of Latino students in California med schools, even though Latinos make up almost 40 percent of the state’s population. The percentage of doctors that are Latino is even lower – around five percent. The report, written by the advocacy group Latino Physicians of California, says that an overwhelming majority of Latino doctors supports promoting health careers for Latino youths and attracting more Latino physicians to the state.

Modesto family doctor Silvia Diego says doctors from different backgrounds than their patients can do harm.

"The doctor may not be sensitive to their culture, they may be even dismissive of their beliefs and their values," she says, "and this definitely tarnishes the patient-doctor relationship."

According to the report, reducing ethnic disparities in medicine will involve better outreach from medical schools, incentivizing Latino doctors to stay in California, and investing more in education to support health careers.

Kerry Klein is an award-winning reporter whose coverage of public health, air pollution, drinking water access and wildfires in the San Joaquin Valley has been featured on NPR, KQED, Science Friday and Kaiser Health News. Her work has earned numerous regional Edward R. Murrow and Golden Mike Awards and has been recognized by the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Environmental Journalists. Her podcast Escape From Mammoth Pool was named a podcast “listeners couldn’t get enough of in 2021” by the radio aggregator NPR One.
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