Experts Highlight Diversity Disparities in Health-Care Workforce

Despite recent attention on the issue, there are still substantial challenges to building and maintaining a diverse health-care workforce, according to a panel of experts who spoke at the Atlantic Pulse Summit on Health Care in Boston.

“The people giving care in America don’t look very much like America,” said Esther Choo, MD, MPH, as reported in STAT. Dr. Choo is an emergency-medicine specialist at Oregon Health & Science University and a founding member of Time’s Up Healthcare – an initiative to tackle discrimination, harassment, and inequality in the health-care industry.

Although recent attention has been paid to eliminating sexual discrimination and sexual harassment against women in science and medicine, the panelists noted that this type of harassment is only one part of the problem.

Damon Tweedy, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine, raised concerns that medical training programs are glossing over discussions about race and social factors that can affect patients’ health. “Students get this sense of what’s important to learn and what’s not,” he said.

Other speakers recounted being targets of bias and racism by peers and patients. “There’s a safety gap and a dignity gap and a pay gap and an opportunity gap,” Dr. Choo continued. The panelists agreed, adding that addressing these disparities – through implicit bias training and institutional assessments of harassment – will help to diversify the health-care workforce and, ultimately, improve patient care.

Source: STAT, April 30, 2019.