California has a bit of a doctor issue: There aren't enough Latino physicians in California to handle the growing number of Spanish-speaking Latino residents in the state, according to a new report.
The report released last Friday by the Latino Physicians of California stated that although nearly 40 percent of California's population is Latino, only 5 percent of the state's physicians are.
"As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues its impact in California through Covered California, greater efforts must be directed toward increasing Latino physicians in provider networks," the report said.
Locally, the numbers are nearly identical.
According to the Medical Board of California's most recent data, there were 4,640 licensed physicians in Sacramento County in 2013. Of those, 3.2 percent identify as Latino. Over time, the data show that the numbers of licensed Latino physicians has neither increased nor decreased drastically in the county.
The number of Latino residents, however, has increased. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 22.7 percent of current Sacramento County residents are Latino, compared to 21.6 percent in 2010.
The trend is the same for neighboring Stanislaus, San Joaquin, Placer, El Dorado, Yolo and Yuba counties.
In San Joaquin County (Stockton, Lodi, Tracy, etc.), where 40.8 percent of the population is identifies as Latino, only 2.8 percent of its 1,078 physicians are Latino.
The advocacy group's report recommended several ways to help the state's Latino representation issue, including establishing partnerships with K-12 schools and colleges to establish a career pipeline for students who want to become physicians.
According to the study, Latinos make up only 9 percent of students admitted into medical school.
"Supporting students earlier in middle school and high school has been seen as a critical workforce and career-readiness component that is consistent with the Affordable Care Act," the report stated. "LPOC can make an impact by working with middle and high schools ... and provide educators with information about essential competencies to help guide their curriculum."