September 29, 2023
Donaldo Hernandez, M.D., President of the California Medical Association (CMA), issued the following statement (en Español) in anticipation of National Latino Physician Day on October 1. You can also see a video message from Dr. Hernandez here.
"¡Bienvenidos a todos!
"On October 1, we celebrate National Latino Physician Day and the contributions of Latino and Latina physicians in the United States. It is also a day to raise awareness that, while Latinos constitute over 40% of California’s population, our Latino physicians make up only 6% of the total physician workforce. Latina physicians constitute only 2% of the workforce, compared to the 36% of women physicians in California.
"By calling attention to this and other long-standing inequities in representation and care delivery, the goal of comprehensive systemic evolution and the elimination of deep-seated structural barriers to culturally-congruent and -aligned care can be fully realized. Only one in four Latino adults reported sharing a racial, ethnic or language background with their physician. With persons identifying as Latino or of Latino descent being the fastest growing segment of California’s population, including 48% of babies now born in California, the need for urgent steps forward is imperative.
"Latino communities have had historically worse outcomes, illustrated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where Latino households were over 8 times more likely to have higher exposure risks and had case rates more than 3 times higher, resulting in worse COVID mortality outcomes 1.5 times higher when compared to California’s white households. Evidence repeatedly shows that cultural and linguistic concordance leads to better patient outcomes, as well as improved trust and communication between doctors and patients.
"The urgent need for change – for our elected leaders, for our hospitals and health care delivery systems, for our educators and academic medical centers, and our Latino and non-Latino health care leaders to actively work to incorporate structural changes to improve Latino representation in the U.S. physician workforce – has never been more critical.
"California is a world leader in innovation and opportunity, a place where aspiration becomes reality. After the centuries-long contribution of Latinos in support of this state and its growth to an economy that rivals or exceeds almost all nations, the time is now to assure the health and wellbeing of Latino communities for all time. Together, let’s celebrate National Latino Physician Day on October 1 and redouble our efforts in seeking the goal that California will become the place where every resident has access to physicians who can talk to them, understand them and collaborate with them, making this the state where every person is assured the best health possible.