The low number of historically underrepresented men of color (HUMOC) in health care professions has been declared a national crisis by The Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP).
The numbers indicate a lack of diversity that will negatively impact public health, education, economic stability, and the availability and quality of healthcare for all U.S. communities.
FASHP, representing CEOs of national academic health professions associations, released a consensus statement about the issue and called on local and national educational, health care, governmental, and community leaders to raise awareness; to identify barriers; and to provide resources to increase the number of men of color graduating from health professions.
“We must urgently join forces with P-16 education, government, health care, corporations and other leaders to remove pathway barriers and adopt robust strategies that facilitate a significant increase in the number of historically underrepresented men of color entering and graduating from dental, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, social work and other health professions schools,” said Dr. Karen P. West, secretary for FASHP and president of the American Dental Education Association.
Of more than 6,500 2021 U.S. dental school graduates, 48.4% were men, of which 6.46% were HUMOC. Of more than 20,000 2021-22 U.S. medical school graduates, 10,268 were men, of which 1,251 were HUMOC.
Of 824 2021-22 U.S. public health doctoral graduates, 230 were men. And of total graduates, 2.5% were Black/African American men, 2.1% Hispanic/Latino men, and 0.1% American Indian/Alaska Native men. Meanwhile, the 2021 graduating class of veterinary medical students included only 0.6% Black/African American men, 1.4% Hispanic/Latino men, and 0.2% American Indian/Alaska Native men.
“A lack of awareness, marginalization, educational disparities, systemic racism and unconscious bias has led to these continuing inequalities and a lack of HUMOC 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.
Some of the effects FASHP members have made to remedy this issue include the 2020 AAMC Action Collaborative for Black Men in Medicine; a two-day ADEA summit to develop solutions to HUMOC scarcity; and the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). FASHP is also creating a coalition with associations across academic health professions, health care institutions, and health professional organizations to tackle scarcity of low HUMOC numbers at health professions schools.