Recently the Physicians Medical Forum (PMF), an African-American physician retention and recruitment non-profit organization, hosted a a day-long, tuition-free seminar to encourage the increase of Black students attending medical school. The goal was to continue to help boost the numbers of Black doctors. Last year, the number of African American applicants to medical school rose by 4.8 percent, according to data released in October 2011 by the Association of American Medical Colleges.
PMF is hoping to increase that number this year.
“The Physicians Medical Forum’s ongoing mission is to recruit and retain African American physicians to eliminate health disparities; improve access to care; and maintain diversity within the profession, thereby improving the quality of life for people of color,” says Dr. Albert L. Brooks, PMF President and chief of medical services at Washington Hospital in Fremont.
PMF’s primary goal is to help increase the number of African-American physicians, residents and medical students in Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Francisco Counties, while helping to eliminate health disparities and improving the quality of life and medical care for patients. “Since its inception, one of PMF’s primary goals has been to partner with medical schools and universities to develop and maintain sustainable initiatives, programs, events, mentoring, and organizational support that serves to encourage residents and medical students to practice in the Northern California area,” explains Dr. Brooks.
Despite the rise in medical school applications by African Americans, the number of African American doctors in the U.S. is still low. According to stats from a 2004 U.S. Labor Department and of the American Medical Association census, there are approximately 885,000 doctors in the U.S, representing about 29 percent of the population or one-third of 1 percent. Caucasians represent 47.8 percent of all physicians. Black doctors only make up 2.3 percent, while Hispanic doctors are about 3.2 percent. Asians represent 8.3 percent of all doctors.
“PMF understands that an active, viable, diverse and thriving medical community is key to retaining physicians,” says PMF Executive Director Stalfana Bello. “The ‘Doctors On Board Program’ is vital in its effort to encourage students to pursue careers in medicine, which is so imperative to maintaining healthy inner-city communities.”