June 21, 2023
The Alliance of Minority Physicians, a coalition formed by the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to improve diversity within the physician workforce, has been given a grant by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation to boost its efforts citywide.
The Alliance helps the health systems recruit, retain, mentor and engage medical students from underrepresented groups. Since its founding in 2012, the number of residents and fellows from underrepresented groups in Penn Medicine and CHOP training programs has tripled.
But there remains room for improvement. Just 5.7% of doctors in the U.S. identify as Black or African American, according to the latest data from the Association of American Medical Colleges. By contrast, about 12% of the U.S. population is Black. Similarly, only 6.9% of physicians identify as Hispanic despite Hispanic people making up 18.9% of the U.S. population.
This lack of diversity within the health care workforce contributes to health disparities in the U.S., health experts say. Research suggests there are clear benefits when doctors and patients share the same race or ethnicity. Studies show this leads to improved medication adherence, shorter wait times for treatment, shared decision-making and better patient perceptions of treatment decisions, among other benefits.
The grant from the IBX Foundation was given through its Institute for Health Equity, created last year to address policies and practices that have harmed underserved communities. The amount of the grant was not disclosed.
"The expansion of the UPHS-CHOP Alliance of Minority Physicians model is one of the ways we are committed to address equity in medicine through the IBC Foundation Institute for Health Equity," said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. "With 1 out of every 6 U.S. doctors trained in Philadelphia, scaling this model better addresses disparities in the physician workforce."
"This funding helps catalyze the UPHS-CHOP Alliance of Minority Physicians' efforts in engaging students underrepresented in medicine to support the diversity of medical students throughout the region – with a goal that all students realize their full potential as future physicians and leaders," added Dr. Iris Reyes, founder and faculty advisor for AMP.
"Through this new AMP initiative, we are seeking to utilize evidence-based principles and the groundwork of a decade of experience to engage Philadelphia’s medical students in envisioning what their career can look like. We are looking forward to supporting them as they blaze the path toward realizing their potential as future clinical and physician scientists across all specialties."