The new U.S. Surgeon General called for an increased effort to recruit more minority doctors Thursday in a speech in Atlanta.
The Associated Press: "In what was one of her first speeches to a large crowd since she was sworn in Nov. 3, Dr. Regina Benjamin noted that the proportion of U.S. physicians who are minorities is only 6 percent -- the same proportion as a century ago. ... The numbers come from a 2004 estimate of the percentage of U.S. physicians that are black or Hispanic. Blacks and Hispanics account for roughly 28 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2008 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. In a 27-minute speech, Benjamin told health leaders in the audience to encourage young minorities to pursue careers in medicine or other ambitions" (Stobbe, 12/3).
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the speech was part of the Morehouse School of Medicine-sponsored Third Annual Conference on Health Disparities. The AJC writes that former HHS Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan "praised Benjamin for her Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic, located in a tiny fishing village on the Alabama's Gulf Coast. She had treated many patients who cannot afford to pay her. After hurricanes and fires destroyed her clinic, Benjamin rebuilt it using her own credit cards, personal savings and donations. 'She makes house calls, she drives a pickup truck, and she accepts oysters and corn as payment,' Sullivan said. He added, 'She is only at the beginning of her career'" (Schneider, 12/3).