Recently a colleague was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, because it’s been something I’ve been dealing with for the last 5 years, she asked for a doctor recommendation. Since we live in the same area, I didn’t hesitate to recommend my doctor to her. When I gave her his card, she looked at it and gave it back to me and asked, “Is he white? I only use black doctors”. I told her technically he’s Jewish and she probably wouldn’t find a better Rheumatologist than him in our area. Nope, she wasn’t hearing it, she needed a black doctor. I didn’t press the issue any further.

I’ve had doctors of all types of backgrounds. When I’m picking a doctor, rarely does my health directory let me know their race or ethnicity, but it will display the languages they speak. When I search for the reviews of doctors, it’s never mentioned either. I guess I’ve never given thought that people actually seek out doctors of a certain race or ethnicity.

My dermatologist is African-American, but when I walk into his office his patients are diverse. The same goes for my Asian OB-GYN. Even when choosing a new doctor for my son, I searched reviews of doctors in the area. Then matched the names up to my health insurance and picked the best reviewed one, and when I walked into the office I discovered he’s Liberian.

I guess I’m not so picky about the race of a doctor as I am about their reviews and if they come with good referrals. Is it that people may be more comfortable with a doctor from their own background? I do realize if English isn’t a person’s primary language, they may seek out a doctor that speaks their language, but that doesn’t mean much. I know tons of doctors, with English as their first language, that are fluent in other languages. I can only hope my colleague was eventually able to find a doctor to her liking, but I don’t plan on changing any of mine anytime soon.

Do you factor in race or ethnicity when picking a doctor? If so, why?

  • Me27

    I’ve never considered race when searching for a doctor. i usually go to a doctor based on reviews or referrals from close friends and family and I’ve had doctors of various races. However, I will admit, that I typically avoid doctors who went to medical school in foreign countries. For some reason, i feel more comfortable knowing my doctor went to school in the same country i live in.

  • Patience

    I kind of do to prevent there from being barriers with communication.

  • Ms. Information

    I choose to have a black dermatologist since there are differences in skin types…but I’ve had good doctors of all races in other areas.

  • Jess

    Race is never a concern when I choose a doctor. For me the most important criteria are competence/knowledge, as well as how personable/and or genuinely kind they are. So many doctors are cold, they spend five minutes with you and are disinclined to entertain a discussion about your care. My GP is a great doctor, she listens and talks to me–not at me. She just so happens to be White.

  • Jess

    I agree with this. My normal dermatologist is Jewish, but when I had a cosmetic procedure done I chose an African American because of his experience using lasers on Black skin.

  • Kenzy

    i have actually NEVER had a black doctor my 30 + years here on earth go figure and thats not by choice, race is never a factor frankly since its my health im more concerned with the reviews ive read and recommendation

  • heavenleiblu

    I used to prefer a Black, femal ob/gyn, but I’ve had to let that go: I’m now seeing a white male.

    My GI doc practices both her and in the UK, and he’s one of the best in the business on both sides of the pond; again a white guy.

    My primary is Indian, and I’ve never had anyone be so throught and nice on top of that.

    The only practicioners that I have a srong preference that they be Black (+female as a bonus), is a dermatologist and a therapist. I have certain needs and concerns that I just feel that they’re able to relate to and treat better. The search for both continues.

  • C

    Not really, but it can be a plus if they are black. I’ve had some really good non-black doctors, but in the back of my mind, I can’t help but wonder if the doctor is racially biased (I’ve been to a couple). It’s not something that I include in my searches, though. My current pcp is Indian. She’s the best doctor I’ve ever had. So thorough with her care and testing, compassionate, friendly, and has a great bedside manner.

  • Patience

    Trying to explain certain things in detail when dealing with someone whose first language isn’t English can be difficult.

  • Sabrina

    Shoot, if I did, I wouldn’t have a doctor at all! I did go to a dermatologist once that made me wish for a black derm…I have saeborric dermititis and she told me to wash my (then relaxed) hair every day. When I looked at her crazy, she told me to just condition my hair well and it should be okay. Umm, no.

  • LemonNLime

    Race isn’t but sex is. I would never go to a male for my general physician or gynecologist. Everything else, I really don’t care.

  • victoria

    Race doesnt matter. Although, I do feel more comfortable with a black, female gyno. I now live in a country where there arent many black doctors. So all of my doctors are white. Found an African pediatrician. I was so excited to go to him, but his office never returned my calls.

  • Starla

    I don’t actively search out a black doctor. But I prefer an ethnic doctor. My GP is an Iranian female who I can speak openly with, and know there will be no judgement on her part. My surgeon is a devout Orthodox Christian man who is beloved by all, I was blessed to have him. My specialist is of Indian descent, and I can speak freely with him, and I know he cares about my survival.

    I grew up in a black nation prior to emigrating, so I had black doctors for my entire childhood and teenage years.

  • omfg

    my dermatologist has to be black or someone who sees lots of black/dark-skinned patients.

    sorry but the asian doctors (male and female) i’ve had were mean.

    i would not be comfortable going to an indian male doctor either cuz i perceive them as racist.

    i once had an arab male doctor who thought i should get tested for hiv b/c of gyno issues even though i hadn’t had those relations in a loooonnnngggg time. i felt like he was making assumptions about me because i’m black. my gyno issues didn’t relate to an std. i won’t go to a middle eastern doctor.

    i prefer a black doctor because i don’t want to deal with cultural issues. i had a skin issue once and the white doctor i had told me she couldn’t see it and that black people often have hyperpigmentation. ugh. outside of that she was good, but i don’t like dealing with ish like that. the black derm she referred me to (at my request) spotted the problem immediately.

    i’ve never been to a latino/latina doctor.

    if it’s a specialist (outside of a derm) i may care less. but a primary care doctor, i’d care more.

    so, i’m mixed on these things.

  • lol

    i don’t want to care but i recently read an article that basically stated that a dr might prescribe amputation for a black patient as opposed to diabetes pills for another race (white i guess) because the black people they had dealt with in the past had not taken the pills faithfully so they eventually had amputations. the drs felt they were justified because amputation was eventually done so why not just skip the pill stage to begin with?

    another article talks about racial bias , and how the drs don’t know that they are biased. here’s a paragraph;

    “What the study revealed — that the doctors had a moderate implicit bias against blacks and more strongly associated whites with compliance — was perhaps most surprising to the doctors themselves, who thought they harbored no preference for blacks over whites and had overall positive attitudes about race.”


    makes me nervous.

  • lol

    my thoughts exactly.

  • Apple

    I only search for a black doctor when seeking dermatologists because we would have the same skin and hair . I once had a good black derm but after a natural disaster I didn’t see him again and he was the only one in the state . So bad skin it is for now (i got a white dr but it’s still not working out)

  • The Comment

    Chinese or German for me. My OBG/YN is Chinese and my General doctor is Chinese as well. And I like them to be 1st American immigrants. From my experience, they don’t totally rely on Western Medicine to cure all problems. Oh…and my pediatrician is from Nigerian. She was the best ever. Just give me good care. I don’t care where you are from.

  • B

    For me, gender is more important than ethnicity.

  • omfg

    there are so many studies that say black patients are treated differently and receive inferior care, for whatever reason. this is i feel like i have to be on my guard when dealing with a doctor. they don’t perceive me as their mother. frankly, i don’t always trust them or think they care.

    not too long ago, i watched a lecture given by a black pediatrician on the uc california channel about issues in delivering care to children. lol.

    historically, our lives are not always valued and so we must be vigilant.

  • ericka

    For primary care I prefer a personwho is both black and a woman but tried out one who sucked and then was referred to an awesome Russian woman. So although I prefer someone like me I’ll definitely see the best person for the job.and when it comes to specialists, I don’t even consider race.

  • MD2be

    Does not matter where they are from. But as a soon to be medical school graduate, I do beleive that is important to make underrepresented minority doctors feel supported. Medical school and residency is hard for black and Hispanic graduates. We deal with a lot–from colleagues making derogatory/racist comments about patients to blatant and insidious discrimination at work. When we are subconsciously told on a regular basis that we will never be good enough doctors, it is disheartening to watch our own people chose Caucasian or Asian doctors over us, especially if they are equating ethnicity or race to capability

  • Jess

    I agree, I always go with a female gyno. Personal preference. Male gynos creep me out!

  • JC

    I never thought that race would matter. But I moved to D.C. and Howard hospital was the most convenient, so I picked a doctor there. There is definitely something in the air. It is the effect of the absence of the sum of all those microaggressions that you experience in a majority non-black hospital.

  • Cleo Hines

    Since the day I was born, I’ve only ever had male Desi (Indian/Paskistani mostly) doctors, and every time I’ve gone to a doctor of another ethnicity, I’ve felt distinctly uncomfortable, maybe I’m just habituated, so I stick to the script now even though gender isn’t really an issue, unless it’s gyno. Female gyno’s freak me out.

  • Egypt

    Yesssss. It always pays to be a step ahead of your doctor. I research every diagnosis, given (even medication). You’d be surprised at the stuff you’d find, and that’s not to say: don’t follow the doctor’s orders… that’s just me saying, research…research…research, before you do so. And be mindful of medications and some of the side effects, they may impose.

  • binks

    For me too! I usually choose a woman doctor because frankly I am more comfortable with a woman as my primary doctor, don’t get me wrong I go to great doctors who are men if it is a specialty problem but for day to day give me a female doc please! But I agree with those who states wanting a black dermatologists as someone who had problems with excessive hair growth I feel a black doctor are better equip and knowledgeable of how to treat and care for ethnic skin and its unique problems, not saying a non-white doc can’t do it but again as mention they would have to have an abundance of black or of color patients.

  • African Mami

    No. Cure me of whatever illness brought me forth to your presence, that’s all I ask. Please don’t smell..

  • Salmon

    Nope. I do prefer female physicians and D.O.s; I’ve found that D.O.’s are more interested in building a rapport with their patients oppose to getting ‘em in and out like an assembly line.

  • Val

    I think this post is incomplete. There are many studies that show that White doctors routinely treat Black and White patients differently. Where they will go the extra mile in treating a White patient they often give minimal treatment to Black patients.

  • Magnolia

    I think it depends. I have many friends who are in OB, peds, Neurologists, Neurosurgeons and primary care so I know black physicians are out there and I will frequent them if they are available in my area. It’s feels good to have physicians who ae culturally competent. Personally, I only like female GYNs and if she’s black that’s a plus. Derm is such a can of worms. You really need someone who truly understands your skin. There’s a shortage of Derms and if you can find someone who specializes in Skin of Color, hang on tight!!! Every other specialty, just find a caring physician who can relate to you and your needs.

  • C

    Right, I wanted to say that, but I couldn’t remember where I’ve read it.

  • Nicole

    Nope. Unless its the dermatologist. Im a woman of color so I need to go to a dermatologist of color.

  • Ravi

    if it’s an emergency and I need a doctor right away, I will go to the nearest doctor regardless of race. If I’m choosing a doctor for regular care, I would look for a black doctor. Of course they should be a quality, well-reviewed doctor. That’s a given though.

    I’ve had black regular physicians since I can first remember going to the doctor. Not sure if my parents sought out a black pediatrician for me, but that’s what I always had.

  • Sick

    YES, of course race matters. I feel the same way, all of my doctors are Black and they are the best in the area. Why should we bother sending our children to college, if we aren’t even going to support them when they get out of school. It is nonsensical to do otherwise. My doctors are black because I have found that black doctors tend to interact better with me. They care more and they actually listen and remember who I am. That didn’t happen with the others, so I stopped going to them years ago. I am more than happy with the doctors I have now and also my lawyer is Black!!! Why should we continue to make everyone else rich but our own?!?!?!?!?!

    Oh, and by the way, my dentist is a Harvard grad!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Joanne Craft

    Living in New York and having survived a heart attack, I wanted a cardiologist who wanted to keep me alive. My cardiologist is Chinese American, my pain doctor is Russian American (his practice is on the same street as my co-op) so I can get to him with no problem. My knee surgeon surgeon is Jewish, when I developed a horrible rash on my face, due to some meds;I found (in my neighborhood) a Jewish dermatologist, who saved my skin (literally). My G.P. is Russian Jewish and his practice is also on my street, and since I have many health problems, and he’s a caring doctor, I’ve kept going to him. For most people, if you do happen to find a good doctor, who is in your neighborhood and takes your insurance, you tend to keep these doctors. If I feel a doctor does not listen to me, I’m out the door. That’s the criteria with me, you must listen to me and I want him easy to get to in an emergency. My cardiologist is not near my apt. but I will never use another cardiologist, because he cares about my health and listens when I’m upset, and just know something is wrong. He listens. Growing up our family doctor was Black. He became a doctor when med most med schools would not admit African Americans, so believe me I know what he went through to become a doctor. He passed away shortly before my parents who were his contemporary. I miss them all.

  • Lady Ngo

    The only time race has been a factor was with my dermatologist…and even then it wasn’t at first. I had what i thought was a rash around my hairline so i went to the woman’s office. She was a white lady and she acted like she didn’t wanna touch me. Then told me she wasn’t used to working with black people’s hair so she didn’t know what to tell me. She wrote up a prescription (for what, i don’t even know) and sent me on my way. A couple of weeks later her receptionist had the nerve to call me talking about a follow-up appointment lol.

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @JC same here i never picked a MD because of race until one of my co-worker gave me her MD card when i could not get an appt. with mine. Her MD was black & female it was such an amazing experience even the nurses seemed to welcome me more & she understood me culturally can’t stop raving about her now if i could just get a black ped for the kids i will be eternally grateful:)

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