CSA Online First

CSA Online First is a weekly blog featuring insights from CSA members themselves.

Edited by Emily Methangkool, MD, MPH, with contributions from CSA’s Committee on Professional and Public Communications, Online First is a place where knowledge and opinion from any one of our 3200 plus physician-anesthesiologist members can be shared, discussed and deliberated to advance the specialty of anesthesiology, the practice of medicine and society in general.

"Better solutions to difficult problems are usually made when all sides are heard."

Steven Goldfien, MD


National Latino/a Physician Day –Raising Awareness & Urgency Behind the Lack of Latino/Latina Physicians in the United States

  • Padilla, Cesar, MD
  • Galvez, Michael, MD
| Oct 01, 2022

Michael Galvez (1)In the United States less than 6% of all physicians are Latino or Latina, despite 19% of the U.S. population identifying as Latino. California has an even higher number of Latino’s, reaching almost 40% of the population, with future increases projected to approximate 50% by the year 2050. Across the United States., it is expected that 1 in 3 Americans will be of Latino descent by the year 2050. There are significant health care barriers, inequalities, and poorer health outcomes in the Latino/Latina/Latinx/Hispanic patient population, raising the need for a physician workforce that is reflective of this population. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened existing inequalities and outcomes, adding urgency to the mission of improving Latino/a physician representation.

In response to these disparities, a national grassroots initiative – National Latino/a Physician Day -- aims to raise awareness regarding the critical shortage of Latino/a physicians has been undertaken by Latino and Latina attending physicians, resident physicians, medical students and premedical students across the United States. National Latino/a Physician Day celebrates existing Latino/a U.S. physicians, while also highlighting the critical shortage of Latino/a physicians in the U.S.

The social media and grassroots campaign to celebrate NLPD was founded 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, who also serves as the Vice Chair for the CSA’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The movement gained traction with the launching of a custom T-shirt campaign that commemorates the inaugural year of this effort with proceeds donated to MiMentor - a non-profit aimed at helping underserved students pursuing medicine. Dr. Antonio Hernandez Conte, President-Elect of the California Society of Anesthesiologists, has been critical in launching NLPD towards national recognition. Dr. Hernandez Conte obtained national support from the Kaiser Permanente federation via KP LatinX Association’s sponsorship for NLPD. Along with organizing an in-person event and media coverage in southern California, we are currently, aware of 11 events, spanning six states, which have been organized to celebrate NLPD.

The Need for Latino/a Physician Anesthesiologists

On October 1, the inaugural launch of NLPD will strategically highlight the need for Latino/a representation in medical subspecialties, including anesthesiology, where only 7.4% of 2019 -2020 active anesthesiology residents identify as Latino/a. Representation of Latino/a physicians is even worse for subspecialty fellowships. In 2019, only 5.4% of obstetric anesthesiology fellows identified as Latino/a. Amongst anesthesiology department chairs, only 2% of these positions were filled by Latinos, with no Latinas physicians represented as of 2020.

The lack of Latino representation amongst leadership positions is critical when considering the training of anesthesiology residents in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, where nearly 50% of the population identifies as Latino/a. This represents a missed opportunity to implement structural changes to address disparities in the Latino/a community. Furthermore, the cultural and linguistic needs of California’s rapidly growing Latino/a population requires an adequate representation of Latino/a physician stakeholders, who themselves understand these cultural and linguistic nuances. According to UCLA’s Latino Policy & Politics Institute, there is an “urgent need to improve the representation of Latinos in medicine and to ensure that Latino physicians are professionally satisfied and supported.” The group makes recommendations to hire “Spanish language capable Latino providers” which can lead to higher quality of care, highlighting the importance of linguistic and cultural concordance between physicians and patients. NLPD aims to highlight the awareness of existing disparities and a need for cultural/linguistic concordance between physician and community demographics.

“6% is not enough.” – We must shape the Latino/a physician pipeline today...

A strategic aim of NLPD is to demonstrate the “urgency” 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, trust and communication between physicians 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 clearly demonstrated the critical need for increasing the amount of Latino and Latina physicians. The mentoring and recruitment of the next generation of Latino and Latina physicians will be essential in ensuring representation in all sectors of the health care system.

Together with several Latino/a physicians across the United States, NLPD has garnered the support of several non-profit organizations and academic / hospital centers. Over 19 organizations have sponsored this endeavor including the Latino Medical Student Association, Medical Organization for Latino Advancement (MOLA), National Hispanic Medical Association, Latino Surgical Society, Alta Med, 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 Orthopedic Surgeons, Latino/a Plastic Surgery Society, Latinos in Pediatrics, American Society of Anesthesiologists, California Society of Anesthesiologists, Stanford Office of Diversity in Medical Education, Stanford Office of Faculty Development and Diversity and Valley Children’s Pediatric Residency Program. Media days for the events will take place in California, specifically at Stanford, Kaiser Permanente, and Alta Med.

National Latino/s PD will be an annual event, with the goal of the day being embraced at every institution across the United States, so that coordinated planning will begin to take place to impact the presence of Latino/a physicians. Join us in this exciting effort to create awareness of the need to recruit more, train more, and promote more Latino/a Physician for the countless Latino patients and their families that we serve.

“¡Necesitamos más!”

“We need more!”

Cesar Padilla, MD
Obstetric Anesthesiology, Stanford University School of Medicine
Vice-Chair, CSA JEDI Committee

Michael G. Galvez
Division of Plastic and Hand Surgery
Pediatric Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery
Valley Children’s Healthcare
9300 Valley Children’s Place GE07
Madera, CA 93636, USA

More information about NLPD can be found on the following websites: www.nationallatinophysicianday.com and www.nationallatinaphysicianday.com #nationallatinophysicnday


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