According to the census results, the Hispanic community has the largest growth in population for the past few years. There is at least 34 percent increase in their 2000 numbers since the year 2009. Unfortunately, not the same increase is expected in the field of medicine. In fact, there is a shortage of Latino doctors and they are dealing with troubling consequences to handle the health care of the entire Hispanic community.
Even though the Latino population is continuously growing, it does not compensate for their presence in the medical field. They make up only 6.4 percent of the students coming out from medical schools all around the United States. This information is from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and it implies that there are 3,000 Hispanic patients to every Latino doctor.
There are many Hispanic residents that still do not speak English as their first language and this makes them relate differently to medical professionals. Having a lack in Latino doctors puts these patients in the risk of being marginalized by the country’s health care system. It’s important to have bilingual and bicultural specialist because some patients are just not comfortable to work with doctors who aren’t. This will make them more hesitant to seek professional medical help when they need to.
Health Care Needs of Latinos
Latinos and Hispanics have suffered from poor health care in the country due to a number of factors. About 20 percent of their population has lived in poverty during the year 2007, according to the United States Department Health and Human Services. Some of the factors that contributed to this are religion, fears, cultural differences and other social determinants.
Today, many of the Hispanics living in the country will be able to take advantage of better health care services through the ACA/Obamacare program. This is indeed a positive thing as it will also help them better understand illnesses and other health conditions that affect them.
Benefits of Having Bilingual Doctors
Majority of the Spanish-speaking patients are uncomfortable talking about their health issues with white doctors. They want somebody who understands their culture and at the same time give them professional medical advice. A survey has showed that even those who can fluently speak English still prefer to discuss their illnesses with a Hispanic doctor so that they can fully express themselves. For patients who can’t speak English very well, they feel uncomfortable about bringing an interpreter as it also violates some privacy issues.
Both physicians and patients are affected by this language and culture barrier because the doctor will be unable to get the whole health history of the latter. This will affect the quality of care that they are able to deliver as physicians. Furthermore, understanding the culture, customs and religious beliefs is also important to Hispanic patients. Sensitivity to such issues makes them feel that they are treated like people.