This report from the University of California San Francisco Center for California Health Workforce Studies analyzes data collected by the Medical Board of California from physicians licensed to practice medicine in the state of California from 2003 through 2007. The report examines the self-reported race, ethnicity, and language proficiency of the licensed physicians. This voluntary demographic data reporting to the Medical Board was required by Assembly Bill 1586, enacted in 2001, with data reporting beginning in 2003. There was an 83% response rate to the demographic questions (91,060 of the 109,763 physicians licensed by the state of California). Of the responding physicians, 61,861 had completed their residency or fellowship training and were actively providing patient care in the state of California.
The report’s key findings are:
1) The underrepresentation of Latinos and African Americans among California physicians remains dire.
2) California has very few physicians of Samoan, Cambodian, and Hmong/Laotian ethnicity, and these ethnic groups should also be recognized as underrepresented in medicine and more actively recruited into the profession.
3) Minority physicians in California play a key role in underserved communities. Minority physicians in California are much more likely than white physicians to practice in Medically Underserved Areas, Health Professions Shortage Areas, communities with high proportions of minority populations, and low income communities.
4) Minority physicians in California are much more likely than white physicians to work in primary care (family medicine, general internal medicine, and general pediatrics).
5) California physicians speak many languages in addition to English.
6) The California Medical Board survey represents a major step forward in the ability of the state to have reasonably accurate and completed data on key characteristics of California physicians, and is a valuable resource for physician workforce analysis and planning in the state.