OAKLAND, Calif., June 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As more patients from underserved populations start to enter the health care system through health care reform, there will be an increasing need to have more African-American and Latino physicians to help provide quality health care. Kaiser Permanente is working to address the shortage of physicians by expanding its relationship with National Medical Fellowships and contributing $1 million to support medical students through education and training programs.
"Kaiser Permanente understands the importance of having a health care workforce that will reflect the diversity of our ever-evolving population," said Yvette Radford, a member of the NMF board and Vice President for External and Community Affairs, Kaiser Permanente Northern California. "We recognize that there are insufficient numbers of African-American and Latino medical students, and our support for NMF is one way to help address this important issue."
According to U.S. Census data and the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile, African-Americans represent 14 percent of the U.S. population and only four percent of physicians. Meanwhile, Latinos represent 16 percent of the population and five percent of physicians.
Understanding and addressing health disparities is crucial to improving community health. Greater access to providers is the first place to start. When given the opportunity, minority patients often select a physician or health care professional of their own racial-ethnic and cultural background because there is a high level of confidence that the physician will understand the patient's unique health care needs. This will have a positive impact on health outcomes and provide equitable care to our communities.
"Every time a member walks through the door, we want them to feel that they are being heard and cared for by someone who understands. Whether they see a Latina surgeon, an African-American cardiologist who is fluent in Spanish, or their trusted family physician– we provide them culturally responsive care, the highest quality of care in the language the member prefers and with respect for their culture at every point of contact," said Frank Meza, MD, MPH, Family Medicine and Physician Ambassador, Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center and 2007 Recipient of the NMF Distinguished Alumni Award.
Kaiser Permanente has a long-standing relationship with NMF and serves on the organization's board of directors. Most importantly, scores of Kaiser Permanente physicians in regions across the country are alumnae of NMF programs. In the coming years, the aim is to tap alumnae physicians to help build the future generation of minority physicians.
About National Medical Fellowships
Founded in 1946 to address the racial barrier that prevented African Americans from attending medical school training programs in the best hospitals, National Medical Fellowships is dedicated to improving the health of underserved communities by increasing the representation of minority physicians and health care professionals in the United States; by training minority medical students to address the special needs of their communities; and by educating the public and policymakers about public health problems and needs of underserved populations.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.
SOURCE Kaiser Permanente