Lack of Men of Color in Health Professions Is a National Crisis

The low number of Latinos and other men of color graduating and entering the health care professions is a national crisis, according to a new consensus statement led by the Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP). 

The statement calls on local and national educational, health care, governmental, and community leaders to address this issue.   

“A continued lack of awareness, marginalization and unconscious bias has led this issue to reach crisis proportions,” according to a FASHP statement. “This crisis is reflected in absolute numbers in academic institutions, in the representation of health professionals, in the elevation to leadership positions, and in health outcomes across the health professions.”  

Let’s dive deeper into this issue and explore potential solutions! 

Lack of Diversity in Health Professions by the Numbers  

Data from the American Dental Association shows that only 431 (6.46%) of the 3,223 (48.4%) male graduates were men of color.  

Of that number, 263 were Latino and 147 were African American/Black.  

Similarly, the Association of American Medical Colleges reports only 1,251 of the 10,268 male medical school graduates were men of color (664 Latino and 565 Black/African American).  

Numbers of men of color graduating with PhDs and doctoral degrees in public health are also low. Of the 230 male graduates in 2021-2022, only 2.5% were Black/African American and 2.1% were Latino, according to The Association of Schools & Programs of Public Health.   

“The underrepresentation of MOC in the health professions extends well beyond the specifics of low numbers and has significant consequences for public health, education, social justice and historically underserved communities,” according to the FASHP statement. 

With many Latinos and other populations of color suffering from various health and social inequities that contribute to health disparities in cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes, the need for health professionals of color is critical. 

“The development of a diverse healthcare workforce is a critical goal for all FASHP member associations,” said FASHP President Dawn Mancuso, MAM, CAE, FASAE, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry. “Our patients deserve the best care we can provide, and that requires a concerted, broader effort to motivate attention and activate solutions.”

Looking for Solutions to Diversify Health Professions  

To combat this crisis, the AAMC has launched the Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine to focus on systemic solutions to increase the representation and success of Black men interested in and entering medicine.

“A lack of awareness, marginalization, educational disparities, systemic racism and unconscious bias has led to these continuing inequalities and a lack of [historically underserved men of color] matriculating and graduating in the academic health professions, which has now reached crisis proportions,” said Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe, CEO of the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.  

The Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP) is a six-week summer enrichment program for marginalized and socioeconomically and educationally disadvantaged college students interested in the health professions.   

SHPEP was created in collaboration with American Dental Education Association, AAMC, and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, along with Dr. Dennis Mitchell, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for University Life at Columbia University, who was instrumental in creating the program according to the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health (ASPPH).

“The historic and ongoing crisis of underrepresentation of [men of color] in the health professions has urgent ramifications, and it calls for intentional collaborative efforts to address it by the healthcare professions, their partners and stakeholders, in partnership with the communities they serve,” according to the FASHP statement.

Further, the FASHP is working to establish a coalition with associations across the academic health professions, health care institutions, and health professional organizations to

help increase the numbers of men of color at health professions schools. 

Current organizations that serve as FASHP members include:  

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing 
  • American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy 
  • American Association of Colleges of Podiatric Medicine 
  • American Dental Education Association 
  • Association of American Medical Colleges 
  • Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges 
  • Association of Chiropractic Colleges 
  • Council on Social Work Education 
  • Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry 
  • Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions 
  • Physician Assistant Education Association 
  • Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health 
  • Association of University Programs in Health Administration 

Dr. Amelie Ramirez, leader of Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, is also working to diversify the field of science, healthcare, and leadership through her Éxito! Latino Cancer Research Leadership Training program. The program annually recruits 25 Latino students and health professionals annually for a culturally tailored curriculum to promote pursuit of a doctoral degree and cancer research career. 

In addition, the Collaborative for Anti-Racism and Equity (CARE), including Salud America! at UT Health San Antonio, provides resources for organizations to tackle health and racial/ethnic inequities in their communities. 

“The U.S. Latino population will continue to rise,” Ramirez said. “This demands diversity, inclusion, and equity, and addressing social needs and training, to ensure the collective national wellbeing into the future.”

Health Equity in Your Community 

What does the health of your community look like?  

Find out with the Salud America! Health Equity Report Card 

Enter your county name to explore health-related data on topics including health care access, socioeconomic status, transportation, and more!   

Compare your results to the rest of your state and nation. Use the data in presentations, case studies, grant applications, and social media messages.  

Share the results with city leaders and social justice organizations to advocate for change in your community. 


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