The pipeline problem: barriers to access of Black patients and providers in reproductive medicine

Blacks make up 13% of the US population and 6.5% of fellows in REI training programs. Many disparities exist in reproductive care. Successful pipeline programs are needed to diversify the workforce.
The pipeline problem: barriers to access of Black patients and providers in reproductive medicine

VOLUME 116, ISSUE 2, P292-295


Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., M.B.A., N.C.M.P. 


The demographics of the United States are rapidly changing, and our health care workforce is not keeping pace with the population trends. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (formerly The American Fertility Society) recognizes the need to increase diversity and is committed to promoting diversity across our membership and leadership as well as promoting equitable quality reproductive care to all patients. In the fall of 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine convened a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force to evaluate and make recommendations on the basis of findings to increase diversity to achieve equity and inclusion of reproductive and infertility services for all women. This article focuses on specific barriers that Black or African American patients face in accessing quality care and that provider’s face in training and inclusion in reproductive medicine. Multiple publications have confirmed an improvement in health outcome when there is congruence between the patient and the provider. There is a stark contrast between the racial and ethnic diversity of our providers and other support personnel compared with that of our patients. Despite our best intent to minimize the effects of implicit and explicit bias, mistrust and misunderstandings when there is discordance between patients and providers negatively impacts care. To increase provider diversity, it is crucial that we prioritize pipeline programs that recruit and support underrepresented minority in medicine physicians. Specific recommendations are made to increase diversity in the pipeline to improve patient access to culturally competent quality reproductive medicine care with optimal outcomes.

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