California has a shortage of Spanish-speaking doctors

Latino Physicians of California reporting today that in a state, where about 40 percent of the population is Latino, only 5 percent of doctors are Latino. (Oct. 24, 2016)

Latino doctors are in short supply in California, according to a new study by the Latino Physicians of California.

The shortage is making it difficult to provide quality care for Latino community members like Ramon Reyes.  

"I go to the emergency room and they have no one to speak Spanish," Reyes said.

The father of two left Mexico City in 1993.

Today he is a legal U.S. citizen working in Sacramento. Reyes said his kids often have to accompany him to the doctor because his English is limited.

“I can't explain, or the doctor can’t explain what’s wrong, or I don't understand," he said.

Reyes is part of a growing number of Latinos that require translators or have trouble connecting with doctors in California.

Currently less than 5 percent of physicians in California are Latino. Those numbers come from a recent study by the Latino Physicians of California.

"Often time, people don’t trust a system they can’t relate to," said Latino Physicians of California member Ramon Arevalo.

California’s population is nearly 40 percent Latino.

Arevalo says California ranks lowest in a Latino-doctor-to-patient ratio.

“Language is only one part,” Arevalo said. “Doctors need to understand a culture. If Latinos can’t relate to their physician, they may put off treatment.”

The Latino shortage problem could take a while to fix. Currently less than 10 percent of medical school students in California are Latino.

“Our goal is to encourage the Latino community to take the next steps and become a doctor or physician,” Arevalo said.

The Latino Physicians of California hope to use their study to get grants and scholarships for prospective Latino Physicians.

Copyright 2016 KXTV


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