Can we write a prescription for pay equality in the medical field?
A new study published today in BMJ shows that black men and women who become doctors earn less than their white counterparts.
The study culled data from two different surveys of medical professionals and adjusted annual incomes for age, hours worked and state residence. In the end, the study found that white male physicians had an adjusted annual income of $253,042 and black male physicians made about $188,230. Meanwhile, white female physicians made about $163,234, while black female physicians earned the lowest of the four groups — $152,784 a year.
These statistics back up national trends that show that, overall, black members of the workforce earn less than white members, and it also corroborates data that shows that women earn less than men. That black women earned over $100,000 less than white men shows the penalties associated with being both black and a woman in the U.S. workforce.
According to Thomas LaVeist, chair of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, physicians need to know their value.
"[We need to do] a better job of educating people across the board — and physicians in particular — to become better educated about what their leverage is, what their value in the marketplace is, and how to negotiate to ensure they get the incomes that they deserve," LaVeist told Vox.
A good place to start might be putting more people of color in the medical field — which is no small feat. According to LaVeist, there's been no increase in percentage of black medical school graduates since the 1960s. According to the New York Times, black people are underrepresented in the physician workforce: Only about 4 percent of America's physicians were black as of 2015.