21,863 students started medical school in the U.S. in 2019.
1,626 were Black.
619 were Black men.
It’s a striking disparity in a year where health disparities are already all too common.
As we’ve grappled with the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racial injustice, the events of 2020 have shined a light on health disparities that have existed for decades – or centuries. Black Americans ages 35-64 years were already 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure than white Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control. They are twice as likely to die from heart disease.
Now, Black Americans are more likely to be infected from COVID-19. And, they are more likely to die from COVID-19.
Black lives matter, and that means correcting the disparities in health care and outcomes must be a priority. One place to start is educating more Black doctors.
Cultural competency makes a difference. When Black or other minority patients receive care from a doctor of the same race or ethnicity, having lived experience in common helps to build trust. In turn, trust can lead to better engagement, more compliance with health care recommendations, and ultimately, better outcomes.