September 29, 2022

Percentage of Black Academic Emergency Medicine Doctors Hasn't Grown in 30 Years

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Black doctors in emergency medicine have only increased by 0.32% in the last three decades. And it’s likely hurting Black patients.

The Bottom Line

From the years 1990 until 2020, there has been no meaningful progress toward racial parity among academic emergency medicine physicians. Urgent institutional changes are needed to address the underrepresentation of Black and Latinx faculty due to structural racism.


Diversity in healthcare teams is related to improved patient care, and having a concordance of patient-physician race/ethnicity and gender has positive effects on health outcomes and patient experience. But demographics across the U.S. physician workforce fail to reflect the diversity of the general population. There have been myriad efforts in the past 10 years aimed at achieving this diversity by implementing strategies to increase recruitment and retention of emergency medicine physicians of color.

Study Objective

To detail the trends in academic emergency medicine physicians over time, particularly focused on historically marginalized and underrepresented groups, including women, Black, and Latinx faculty. 

The Details

Researchers from Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of MedicineStanford University School of MedicineMassachusetts General HospitalBrigham and Women’s Hospital, and Harvard Medical School examined demographic data from the Association of American Medical Colleges faculty roster. They looked specifically at data in a 31-year period (1990–2020) at numbers of women, Latinx, and Black faculty members.


The number of women emergency medicine physicians grew consistently over the three decades, growing a total of 21.89% — though they overall remain underrepresented compared to the overall cohort of academic physicians. However, Latinx faculty members grew only 4.15%, and Black almost not at all, at 0.32%. Both of those two racial/ethnic groups remain severely underrepresented, which the researchers state is “particularly concerning” given the efforts to increasing hiring and retention of physicians of color.

Researchers posit that the reason the number of women physicians has been able to increase — albeit slowly — is because sexism in medicine was named and broadly identified as a persistent problem that needed change. Clearly, naming it is not enough, but it is a start. It remains to be seen whether naming racism in medicine through the more frequent national conversations about race taking place since George Floyd’s murder in May 2020 will help move the needle for more representation of people of color in emergency medicine.

Pull Quote

“In order to change the trajectory of academic emergency physician demographics in the United States, structural change will be required to address the myriad factors that coexist to discourage and exclude Black, Latinx, and other physicians of color from academic emergency medicine faculty. Concrete strategies have been described for how to do so and must be implemented across our departments if we hope to bend the demographic curve of our physician groups toward equity.”


Cleveland Manchanda EC, Ling AY, Bottcher JL, March RH, Brown DFM, Bennett CL, Yiadom MYAB (2022). “Three decades of demographic trends among academic emergency physicians.” Journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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