The Fight for Diversity in Healthcare: A Roadmap for Increasing Minority Doctors

Key Takeaways:

  • Despite ongoing talks, the number of physicians of color entering medicine has hardly changed since the 1960s.
  • Lack of funding and short-term grants hinder efforts to increase diversity in healthcare.
  • Late intervention in the pipeline process leaves many students of color without the necessary support and resources.
  • Current pipeline programs often focus on courses and networking events instead of teaching essential skills for success.
  • The "show me culture" of representation without support is not effective in increasing diversity in healthcare.
  • It's time and it’s integral to move from talk to concrete actions for substantial change in healthcare diversity. 

“Today is about action. We have to understand how serious this is. We're making no substantial increase in the percentage of physicians who are of color going into medicine. We have to get on this way of massive action.” -Dr. Pinesett


In the realm of healthcare, diversity is a principal issue that demands our attention. Every year, there are discussions about the lack of diversity and the need to increase representation. Yet, despite these conversations, we continue to see a lack of progress in diversifying our healthcare providers. The numbers remain stagnant, and it is time for us to take massive action to break this barrier and shift the landscape of healthcare.

To truly understand the magnitude of the problem, we need to examine the data. Looking at the most recent statistics from the ACGME, it is clear that little has changed over the years. The percentage of physicians of color entering the field has remained relatively the same, with minimal increases for black, Latino, Indian, and Native American individuals. This lack of progress is not a recent phenomenon; it has persisted since the 1960s, despite efforts to address the issue.

So, what has gone wrong with our pipeline interventions? Why have we been unable to make significant changes in diversifying healthcare? The answer lies in the shortcomings of our current approaches. We must acknowledge these problems and find ways to fix them.

The first major issue is the lack of sufficient funding for diversity initiatives. While there are millions of dollars spent each year to increase diversity in healthcare, the funding is often limited and unsustainable. Many programs operate on short-term grants, which do not provide enough time or resources to make a substantial impact. To truly address the issue, we need a long-term financial commitment that allows for sustained efforts over a significant period.

Late intervention is another problem that hinders our progress. By targeting diversity initiatives at the MCAT level, during the application process, or in medical school, we are already too far up the pipeline. Many students of color are weeded out in the early stages of their education, before they even have a chance to participate in pipeline programs or enrichment opportunities. To truly make a difference, we need to intervene earlier in students' careers, providing support and resources from junior high through college.

Furthermore, our current interventions often lack long-term support. Many programs are short-lived, lasting only a few weeks or months. After the program ends, students are left to fend for themselves, without the necessary resources or guidance to continue their journey towards a career in healthcare. We need to provide ongoing support and mentorship to ensure that students have the tools they need to succeed in the long run.

A significant problem with our current approach is the focus on courses rather than skill-building. Many outreach efforts target specific subjects or provide networking opportunities, but fail to teach students the essential skills they need to thrive. We need to shift our focus from teaching content to teaching students how to learn, how to study effectively, and how to develop the necessary skills for success. By equipping students with these lifelong skills, we can empower them to navigate any challenges they may face in their educational and professional journeys.

Finally, we must address the issue of "show me" culture. While it is important to have role models and representation, simply seeing someone who looks like you in a certain position does not guarantee success. We need to move beyond the idea that representation alone is enough. Instead, we must focus on providing students with the necessary tools and resources to achieve greatness. It is not enough to show them; we must teach them how to become the best versions of themselves.

To break the barriers in diversity in healthcare, we need to take massive action. This action requires two key elements: massive investment and massive intervention. We must invest significant financial resources into diversity initiatives, ensuring long-term funding that allows for sustained efforts. Additionally, we need to invest in people, building a diverse team of individuals committed to promoting diversity in healthcare.

Alongside this investment, we must focus on intervention. This intervention should prioritize the development of infrastructure and instruction. Infrastructure is crucial for creating a solid foundation and support system for diversity initiatives. We need to build an infrastructure that can withstand the test of time and provide ongoing support to students. This includes leveraging technology to create online repositories of information and resources, as well as establishing networks of experts who can guide and mentor students.

Instruction is equally important, particularly early intervention that focuses on life skills and teaching students how to learn. By providing students with the necessary tools and knowledge, we can empower them to succeed academically and professionally. This instruction should go beyond traditional coursework and focus on developing skills such as professionalism, time management, and effective networking.

In conclusion, breaking the barriers in diversity in healthcare requires a comprehensive and strategic approach. We must acknowledge the shortcomings of our current interventions and take massive action to address them. By investing in both finances and people, building infrastructure, and providing early intervention and instruction, we can create a healthcare system that better serves our diverse population. It is time to move beyond talk and excuses and take tangible steps towards a more inclusive and diverse future in healthcare.

FREE E-Book:


I was told I would never get into any medical school because I was average. Determined not to be defeated, I learned the secrets to pre-med success and took myself from the bottom of the pack to Stanford Med. Are you ready to learn how I did it? 


50% Complete