Too Few African-American Nephrology Fellows

Disparity in proportion of African-American renal disease patients to nephrology fellows

FRIDAY, Jan. 28 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of African-American nephrology fellows is disproportionately less than the percentage of African-American patients with end-stage renal disease, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Chavon Onumah, M.D., M.P.H., of the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and colleagues analyzed trends in the racial background of U.S. medical school graduates, internal medicine residents, nephrology fellows, and patients with renal disease.

The researchers found that the number of African-American medical school graduates has remained stable between 2002 and 2009, making up only 6.5 to 7.1 percent of the total number of graduates. Similarly, the proportion of African-American internal medicine residents has fluctuated between 4.8 to 6.3 percent between 1999 and 2008, with the percentage stabilizing at approximately 5.5 percent recently. The researchers noted that although African-Americans make up 32 percent of end-stage renal disease patients, they constitute only 3.8 percent of nephrology fellows.

"Given the integral role of patient and physician race concordance in the therapeutic relationship, efforts to increase the number of African-American nephrology trainees may help to optimize patient care and improve outcomes," the authors write.

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