“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” Ruth Bader Ginsburg
2050 sounds far away, but that is only 30 years from now! The United States is already a culturally diverse society. It is one of the beautiful things about our great country. However, while strides are being made, our current healthcare system is still far from adequately reflecting the diversity of population it treats, and as a consequence the healthcare needs of many Americans are not being met. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), only 36% of doctors are women of any race, and only 5% of all active physicians are Black, compared with the 13% of the U.S. population that is Black. The numbers are worse, for physicians who are Hispanic or Latinx: Only 5.8% of doctors are Hispanic, according to the AAMC, compared with 18% of the overall U.S. population; only 2.4% of active physicians are Hispanic women (https://www.aamc.org/data-reports/workforce/interactive-data/figure-19-percentage-physicians-sex-2018). While there have been incremental advancements, it seems now is the time for bigger strides. To improve the healthcare landscape of the future, we need to work on changes today.
Diversity Advances Cultural Competence Which Leads To Better Healthcare For All
By the year 2050, it is projected that 50% of the population of the United States will be ethnically diverse “minorities.” Unless we step up efforts to actively recognize and promote qualified minorities in the healthcare field, we will not be equipped to adequately provide healthcare for the diverse population of the near future. I am not advocating that we advance diversity merely for the sake of diversity, but rather, that we attract, retain, and promote skilled diverse individuals to treat our current and future diverse patient population. Better population leads to better overall health of the nation.
My article on Cultural Competence And Ethnic Diversity In Healthcare which recently won the PRS GO Honorable Mention: Special Topic Paper Award discusses these key issues. The article is available here – https://www.ncbi.nim.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6571328
I was also interviewed on the PRS Global Open Keynote podcast where I discuss the issues and practical solutions in more details. The podcast can be accessed at https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ethnic-diversity-in-plastic-surgery-oluwaseun-adetayo/id1449182291?i=1000479267655)
Diversity, Cultural Competence, Equity And Equality
As a Plastic Surgeon serving as a mentor and sponsor to others across all gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, it is important to me that we educate one another about the importance of diversity and cultural competence in patient care. Diversity and cultural competence are ideas that embrace wholeness. Culture is defined as a cumulated deposit of knowledge acquired by a group of people over the course of generations. Cultural competence is the ability to collaborate effectually with individuals from different cultures and backgrounds, and such competence can help improve the healthcare experience and outcomes across a diverse patient population.
Unfortunately, our healthcare system is often mistrusted by individuals and groups that have been abused, mistreated, or discriminated against in the past, such as individuals of low socioeconomic class or minorities. Many current studies show that those from lower socioeconomic status or minority race still receive inferior health care or have worse outcomes when they do seek treatment. Let’s keep working to make progress in building a healthy nation that allows all people to be seen and treated equitably, not just in healthcare, but throughout society. In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
If you would like more information or if you would like me to speak to your organization via Zoom, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.