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Latino Physicians in the United States, 1980–2010: A Thirty-Year Overview From the Censuses

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Abstract

Purpose

To update and extend a 2000 study on the California Latino physician workforce, the authors examined the Latino physician workforce in the 30-year time frame spanning 1980 to 2010, comparing changes in the rates of physicians per 100,000 population for the Latino and non-Hispanic white (NHW) populations in the United States as a whole and in the five states with (in 2010) the largest Latino populations.

Method

The authors used detailed data from the U.S. Census (Public Use Microdata Samples for 1980–2010) to identify total population, total number of physicians, and Spanish-language ability for both the Latino and NHW populations. They examined nativity for only Latinos.

Results

At the national level, the NHW physician rate per 100,000 of the NHW population increased from 211 in 1980 to 315 in 2010 while the Latino physician rate per 100,000 of the Latino population dropped over the same period from 135 to 105. With small variations, the same trend occurred in all five of the states examined. At the national and state levels, Latino physicians were far more likely to speak Spanish than NHW physicians. Over the 30-year period, the Latino physician population has evolved from being primarily foreign born to being about evenly split between foreign born and U.S. born.

Conclusions

The Latino physician shortage has worsened over the past 30 years. The authors recommend immediate action on the national and local level to increase the supply of Latino physicians.

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