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Several Racial/Ethnic-Minority Groups Underrepresented in Health Care Professions

Greater efforts needed to increase diversity in health care professions

FRIDAY, April 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Black, Hispanic, and Native American people are underrepresented in 10 health care professions, according to a study published online March 31 in JAMA Network Open.

Edward Salsberg, from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and colleagues estimated the racial/ethnic diversity of the current health care workforce and the graduate pipeline for 10 health care professions (advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician assistants, physicians, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists).

The researchers found that among the 10 professions assessed, the mean diversity index for Black people was 0.54 in both the current workforce and the educational pipeline. For five of the 10 studied health care professions, representation of Black graduates was lower than representation in the current workforce (e.g., occupational therapy: 0.31 versus 0.50). For Hispanic people, the mean diversity index was 0.34 in the current workforce but improved to 0.48 in the educational pipeline. However, the index remained lower than 0.50 in six of 10 professions, including physical therapy (0.33). For Native American (American Indian or Alaska Native) people, the mean diversity index was 0.54 in the current workforce and increased to 0.57 in the educational pipeline.

“Results of this study suggest that additional efforts are needed to increase the representation of Black, Hispanic, and Native American people in the health care professions,” the authors write.

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