More Minority Doctors Needed
Mike Stobbe, AP
The new U.S. Surgeon General has called for increased efforts in growing the number of minority physicians.
In one of her first speeches to a large crowd since she was sworn in Nov. 3, Dr. Regina Benjamin noted that only six percent of U.S. physicians are minorities — the same as it was a century ago. “There's something wrong with that,” said Benjamin, speaking at a conference on health disparities at a hotel in downtown Atlanta.
The numbers come from a 2004 estimate. Proportionately, black and Hispanic Americans account for roughly 28 percent of the U.S. population. In a 27-minute speech, Benjamin told health leaders in the audience to encourage young minorities to pursue careers in medicine.
Benjamin, 53, is widely respected for being the founder and savior of a rural clinic in Bayou La Batre, AL that was wiped out three times by fire and hurricane. She also was the first black woman to head a state medical society. Last year both the Institute of Medicine and Trust for America's Health called for the surgeon general to play a more prominent and powerful role.