Report: Black Women Doctors are Underrepresented in Health Care Sector

Bo Tefu and Joe W. Bowers Jr.| California Black Media

Physician retention in California has decreased over the years for women doctors of color, a report by the Physicians for a Healthy California stated. According to the report, women physicians are more likely to experience burnout than their male counterparts, a trend that worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report states that Black and Latino physicians are underrepresented in the healthcare industry. Only 2.8% of physicians are Black and 5.5% are Latino across the state of California. It also noted that women doctors of color are often assigned to serve in vulnerable and under-resourced communities.

“It is critical for health care organizations to implement effective strategies focused on the retention of this important group of clinicians,” the report stated.

Women doctors of color face career dissatisfaction, contributing to the low retention rates in California’s healthcare industry. The burnout particularly experienced by female doctors of color stems from workplace harassment and perceived lack of value at work.

Additionally, moral injury was another key factor driving women physicians of color away from the workforce. Unlike burnout, moral injury is defined as “the betrayal of what’s right by someone who holds legitimate authority in a high-stakes situation.”

Currently, two of the nine California regions used in the framework of the report — the Inland Empire and San Joaquin Valley — have less than 50 primary care doctors. Physician shortages are projected to get worse over the next few years. By 2030, the report indicates, the demand for physicians will exceed the supply by at least 12%.

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