November 16, 2001

Minority Physicians More Likely to Practice in Calif. Following School Here

A UCSF study of the migration patterns of underre-presented minority Californians in medicine found that those who attend medical schools in the state are more likely to enter residency programs in California and remain in the state to practice. However, a decreasing number of California minorities who attend medical school are entering medical schools in California. The report was issued November 1 by the California Policy and Research Center/Program on Access to Care.

"California needs to hold onto more of our own when it comes to underrepresented minorities enrolling in US medical schools," according to Kevin Grumbach, MD, UCSF professor of family and community medicine and Director of the Center for California Health Workforce Studies at UCSF. "We need to implement policies to reverse the exodus of qualified minority medical students from California. Increasing the number of minorities educated in California and practicing in the state is critical if we are to meet the health care needs of an increasingly diverse California population."

Some studies of underrepre-sented minority students have suggested that anti-affirmative action policies in California have contributed to the decreasing enrollment of minorities in California medical schools. Another roadblock to representation is that the capacity of the state medical schools is far less than the number of applicants.

"There are fewer underrepre-sented minority Californians entering medical schools anywhere in the nation," said Grumbach, "and in recent years, those who do get accepted into medical school are less likely to stay in the state for their medical education. Minorities seem to consider California a less hospitable place for their medical education."

Latinos, African-Americans and Native Americans are underrepresented in Cali-fornia's physician workforce, and this is a serious problem in California, the study found, because many medically under-served areas in the state have large Latino and African-American populations. Previous studies have shown that African American and Latino physicians in California are more likely to practice in underserved communities and care for uninsured and Medi-Cal patients.

The study assessed the relationship between practice location and location of medical school and residency. Data on location of medical school and residency were analyzed for 3,007 Californians who graduated from medical school between 1985 and 1999. For location of practice, data were analyzed for Californians who graduated from medical school between 1985 and 1992. More recent graduates were excluded from the analysis of practice location because many of them have not yet finished residency.

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