Through the Affordable Care Act, Bailey says, medical practices that care for at least 5,000 patients will receive additional funding, but many NMA members don't have enough patients to take advantage of this benefit.
"It's tough for one doctor to do that," he says. "Disproportionately our numbers show that many of our members in the National Medical Association, many African-American doctors, are in solo, private practice." He encourages those in private practice or considering private practice to think about collaborating more to meet the target number of patients.
The change in health care laws may also cause some African-American doctors to reconsider which communities they serve, he says, noting that some of the provisions in the health care plan are geared to provide better incentives for doctors to get patients well.
Minority physicians are more likely to practice in underserved communities, according to a March 2013 report in the medical journal Academic Medicine.
"All groups, not just African-Americans, and all doctors, may find it better to work in settings or communities where patients are historically more informed, educated and prepared for the new health care changes," says Bailey.
Vela, who created a health disparities course at Pritzker to keep students engaged about challenges facing minorities, recalls meeting a Latino student in an incident that almost brought her to tears. The student intentionally shied away from joining the Latino Medical Student Association, telling Vela, "I wouldn't want people at my medical school to recognize that I was Latino."
"Not everybody is lucky enough to be at a medical school that supports diversity," Vela says. She offers some straightforward advice for students in similar situations: "It's time to join an institution where you'll be valued for your diversity."
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