In the United States less than 7% of all physicians are Latino or Latina, despite the country being made up of 19% Latino. California and Texas have an even higher number of Latino’s, reaching 40% of the population, with future increases projected to be approximately 50% by the year 2050 in California. Across the U.S., it is expected that 1 in 3 Americans will be of Latino descent by the year 2050. In California, nearly one in two babies (48%) born are of Latino descent. There are significant health care barriers, inequalities, and poorer outcomes in the Latino/Latina/Latinx/Hispanic patient population. The COVID pandemic has worsened existing inequalities and outcomes, adding urgency to the mission of improving Latino physician representation. For example, in California 70% of COVID and pregnancy related deaths were in Latinas, highlighting the burden of the pandemic on generational health outcomes.
Furthermore, the lack of Latino physician representation provides additional barriers to culturally and linguistically concordant care, leading to worse healthcare outcomes. Less than one in four Latino adults reported sharing a racial, ethnic, or language background with their physician.
In response to these disparities, a grassroots initiative aimed to raise awareness regarding the critical shortage of Latino Physicians has been undertaken by Latino and Latina attending physicians, resident physicians, medical students and premedical students across the U.S. “National Latino Physician Day” (NLPD) which was first celebrated on October 1st, 2022, and gained significant traction with over 14 million views across social media. Again, on October 1st, 2023, this effort will be undertaken with sponsorship of national non-profit organizations and medical societies.
The social media campaign to celebrate NLPD was initiated by Dr. Michael Galvez, a Pediatric Hand Surgeon at Valley Children’s Hospital and Dr. Cesar Padilla, an Obstetric Anesthesiologist at Stanford Hospital and Clinics. The movement gained traction commemorating the inaugural year of this effort, raising thousands of dollars to MiMentor - a non-profit aimed at helping underserved students enter into medicine. Other influential organizations, such as the National Latino Medical Student Association, have also launched successful T-shirt campaigns celebrating NLPD.
A strategic aim of NLPD is to help create the narrative of the crisis regarding the lack of community and physician workforce ethnic/racial and cultural concordance. Evidence shows that cultural and linguistic concordance leads to better patient outcomes, and improved trust and communication between doctors and patients. Having Latinos better represented in medicine is necessary for the Latino community and for the future of medicine in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic further demonstrated the urgent need for increasing the amount of Latino and Latina physicians.
Together with several Latino and Latina physicians across the U.S., NLPD has garnered the support of several non-profit organizations and academic / hospital centers. Over 23 organizations have sponsored this endeavor including the Latino Medical Student Association, Medical Organization for Latino Advancement (MOLA), National Hispanic Medical Association, Latino Surgical Society, AltaMed Health Services, Kaiser Permanente LatinX Association, MiMentor, Latino Faculty Advocacy Meetings at Stanford, Latinx Physicians of California, Salud Con Tech, The Latino Coalition Against COVID-19, #LatinasInMedicine, American Association of Latino Orthopaedic Surgeons, Latino/a Plastic Surgery Society, Latinos in Pediatrics, American Society of Anesthesiologists, California Society of Anesthesiologists, Stanford Office of Diversity in Medical Education, Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program, California Medical Association, and the American Medical Association. Media days for the multiple events will again take place across the U.S.
More information can be found at: National Latino Physician Day.com and National Latina Physician Day.com The movement can be followed with these hashtags: #nationallatinophysicianday #nationallatinaphysicianday #nationallatinxphysicianday