Letters to the Editor

San Joaquin Valley cries out for more Latino physicians

A recent story in The Bee talked about the lack of Latino physicians in California despite the state’s growing Latino population gaining health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

As a Latina who grew up in Firebaugh, I’ve seen first hand the importance of having Latino physicians in the Valley who can deliver culturally competent health care. The need for Latino physicians in the Valley is important due to major health disparities found in the area.

Finding ways to recruit Latino physicians to practice in the Valley could include competitive economic incentives from the federal government for physicians to practice in underserved areas. For example, the University of California, San Francisco has been training physicians in Fresno since 1975. About 40 percent of the physicians trained here stay in the region to provide care in the Valley.

Furthermore, focusing on training the next generation of Latino physicians by emphasizing training in science, technology, engineering and math is critical. Encouraging young children academically, improving our schools and increasing scholarship opportunities for Latino students to pursue their interests in medicine would help address the long-term need for Latino physicians.

Isabel Rangel, Firebaugh