The underrepresentation of minorities among physicians is considered a significant health care concern. Previous work has shown that, for underrepresented minority (URM) patients, URM doctors may provide more culturally appropriate care, more access to care and may be preferred by the patients themselves. This study looked at two related questions: Do URM pediatricians serve more minority and poor patients, including publicly insured or not insured children? Has this changed over time?
The data was culled from surveys by the American Academy of Pediatrics of its fellows in 1993, 2000 and 2007. Respondents numbered 1,003 in 1993, of which 10.2 percent were URMs; 707 in 2000, of which 11.8 percent were URMs; and 900 in 2007, of which 11.8 percent were URMs. Survey response rates exceeded 50 percent.
The minority composition of the doctors’ patient groups were unverified estimates provided by the pediatricians themselves. But the data and results of this assessment are consistent with other studies which indicate URM pediatricians continue to play a critical role in the treatment of minority and poor children. This suggests that, despite recent efforts to reduce or eliminate programs that encourage minorities to enter medical professions, there is a real need to recruit qualified URMS into pediatric careers.