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The Benefits of Diversifying Surgery
Representative teams of providers provide welcoming care for patients of various cultures, races, ethnicities and religions.
Fatima C. Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, MBA
Publish Date: June 7, 2021   |  Tags:   Diversity Equity Inclusion Staffing Workplace Culture Patient Experience
Caring Touch
CARING TOUCH Diverse care teams understand the culturally appropriate needs of different patient groups.

The nation's melting pot is at a full boil. Consider that racial and ethnic minorities in this country will become the majority population in the coming decades. The United States Census Bureau says the point at which Whites comprise less than 50% of the nation's population, a time when the U.S. becomes a "majority minority" nation, is expected to occur in 2044.

According to an analysis of 2020 census data conducted by William H. Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, between 2010 and 2019 the population of Latinos and Hispanics increased by approximately 10 million; Asian Americans by 4.3 million; Blacks by 3.2 million; and people of more than two races by 1.6 million. The White population decreased by 16,612 over the same period. The analysis notes that millennials and members of Gen Z and post-Gen Z make up more than half of the nation's population, and the younger generations are more diverse: whites comprise 49% of post-Gen Z, 51% of Gen Z and 55% of millennials. In comparison, whites comprise 59.7% of Gen X, 71.6% of Boomers and 77.7% of pre-Boomers.

Additionally, according to a Gallup Poll, 5.6% of Americans identified as LGBTQ+ in 2020, up from 4.5% in 2017.

The number of minority providers does not reflect these trends. For example, the number of Black physicians in the United States has increased by only 4% in the last 120 years. There has been an increase in racial and ethnic groups in nursing to 20%, but this is still short of the 37% of the U.S. population considered to be racial and ethnic minorities. Unfortunately, there continue to be barriers to increasing diversity in nursing education.

These statistics reflect poorly on the nation's healthcare system and its ability to recognize and respond to the needs of the communities it serves. Surgical leaders with the foresight to recognize the growing need to connect with increasingly diverse communities will position their facilities to capture cases from patients seeking culturally appropriate care. 

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