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?

38 Comments

  1. 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.

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  2. 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.

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  3. 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.”

    link
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/racial-bias-doctors_n_1472281.html?ref=black-voices

    makes me nervous.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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  4. 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)

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  5. 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.

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