California lacks Black doctors. Here’s how the state can add more

Dr. Kim Rhoads has helped set up the Umoja Health pop-up clinic in Oakland to vaccinate Black residents.

I can still remember one of the first times that I helped treat a Black patient.

I was on my OB-GYN rotation during my clinical year at UCSF School of Medicine, and I did what any other health provider would do. I tried to make the patient feel comfortable. I asked her questions and listened closely to her responses. It felt like a normal conversation where I tried to gather information and provide health advice in equal measure.

But as I was leaving the clinic that day, wearing my white coat, a Black woman from the office ran after me to relay how proud she was – and how important it was for her to see someone like me learning how to become a doctor.

It should come as no surprise that Black Californians want there to be more Black providers in our health system. Black doctors have been few and far between in California, making up around 3% of the state’s total physicians for decades.

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