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Celebrating Our MHI Scholars

Medical Specialty Fields Still Lagging In Diversity

Article by Johnny Goodley MHI Scholar

There is a dearth of Neurologists, especially Black neurologists, as detailed in the recent study, Neurological interest and career exploration among Black medical students: Perceptions and solutions for the pipeline, that was published in the January 2022, Vol. 113, Number 6 Journal of the National Medical Association. Just 5% of all physicians are Black and Black physicians only comprise 3% of all neurologists. Thus there is an even further disparity within the disparity of total Black physicians vs Blacks making up 14% of the general population. The study hypothesized that it was due to a lack of racial diversity in the field, though data found by the study implied that this was not a statistically significant factor.

From the data collected, the lack of consideration of Neurology by Black students was mainly due to a lack of understanding or intrigue in the field itself, and not due to any misinformation or bias that was not also proportionally shared by White or Asian students. The lack of intrigue in Black students seems to be due to a lack of positive bias for Neurology. Considering the greater disparity in incidence of conditions neurologists treat like Strokes and Multiple Sclerosis that occur more frequently in Black patients, it is concerning that there are so few doctors who resemble and can often better relate to their patients. This issue is especially important due to a projected large drop off in numbers of all practicing neurologists in the future, as such it has become imperative to increase interest in the field for the future due to the importance of the field. Similar challenges are seen in Dr. Merritt’s specialty of PMR and we will review similar studies in that field in the future.

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