By Mark Hayes
Dr. Dare Adewumi was hired to lead the neurosurgery practice at an Atlanta-area hospital, Then he says he quickly faced racial discrimination that ultimately led to his firing…and now he’s filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination on the basis of his race. Here now to talk more about what many black doctors say they are facing around the country is Dr. Dare Adewumi the former head of neurosurgery at Wellstar Hospital here in Metro Atlanta. Mark Hayes recently sat down with Dr. Adewumi and shared their conversation with us.
The Atlanta Daily World made numerous attempts to reach out to Wellstar and their legal representative, but we have not received a response to our inquiry.
In the meantime, we wanted to share some of the incredibly startling information we found while researching this story. First, the number of Black male medical students peaked forty years ago and has been declining ever since. According to Stat News, Black male medical students accounted for 3.1% of the national medical student body in 1978, in 2019 they accounted for just 2.9%. Without the contribution of historically Black medical schools, just 2.4% would be Black men. The number of Native American students also declined. This is problematic because data show that when Black patients are treated by Black doctors, the clinical outcomes have a much higher rate of success.
Even more troubling, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, Black doctors made up just 5% of active physicians in the U.S. in 2018, according to the most recent data available. People who identify as Black alone represent 12.4% of the total U.S. population, according to the 2020 U.S. census. Advocates say these numbers are unacceptably low and contribute to the kind of discrimination Dr. Adewumi alleges he has been subjected to. According to his attorney, he’s not alone, and they maintain that Black doctors across the country commonly experience discrimination, ranging from microaggressions to unwarranted performance scrutiny to career-threatening disciplinary actions.
And getting back to the impact on public health, the National Academy of Medicine has stated, that increasing racial and ethnic diversity among physicians would dramatically improve health care outcomes, access, and life expectancy for minority populations. And we could characterize this disparity as a crisis, as currently, African American males have the lowest life expectancy of any population in the United States. Studies show access to care and health outcomes improve when physicians more closely represent the patients they care for, in large part because of the increased trust of those caring for them.