(HealthDay News) — Too few members of certain minority groups are pursuing careers in U.S. medicine, resulting in a serious lack of diversity among general practitioners and specialty doctors, according to a research letter published online Aug. 24 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Publicly reported data gathered by researchers showed that in 2012, blacks made up 3.8 percent of practicing physicians, 5.8 percent of trainees in graduate medical education, and 6.8 percent of medical school graduates. The overall population of the United States was 15 percent black in 2013, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Hispanics made up 5.2 percent of practicing physicians, 7.5 percent of graduate medical education trainees, and 7.4 percent of medical school graduates. Their share of the total U.S. population is about 17 percent, according to 2013 census figures.

“My father graduated medical school in 1960, and at that time only 3 percent of doctors were black,” Wayne Riley, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., president of the American College of Physicians and a clinical professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, told HealthDay. “This study shows 3.8 percent of doctors are black. We’ve had barely perceptible progress. Over a 50-year period, we are still nowhere near African-American and Latino physicians representing their percentage of the population.”

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Women have successfully made inroads into medicine, according to the study findings. For example, women now represent 48.3 percent of medical school graduates and 46.1 percent of trainees in graduate medical education. Women also are the majority in seven specialties among graduate medical education trainees, including obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, dermatology, family medicine, and pathology.

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