Skip to main content

Eliminating the Shortage of Medical Workers

WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ("NAACP") seeks to confront and eliminate societal and institutional barriers that undermine the advancement of African Americans; and

WHEREAS, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for trauma-informed and culturally competent care centered in racial equity principles that addresses socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic differences; and

WHEREAS, in 2022, the Internal Journal of Medicine found that increasing the number of Black physicians could reduce Black-White gaps in life expectancy, (see, Congress as the Farm Bill reauthorization proceeds in Ly, D.P. Historical Trends in the Representativeness and Incomes of Black Physicians, 1900–2018. J GEN INTERN MED 37, 1310–1312 (2022).; and

WHEREAS, within other health care professions, an estimated 7.8 percent of nurses, 3.8 percent of dentists, and 2.5 percent of physical therapists are Black (id.); and

WHEREAS, the costs associated with obtaining education and training in medical professions are prohibitive due to the requirements of course work, testing, application, and travel involving the interviewing process and these costs are more difficult for Black people to assume than their non-Black counterparts; and

WHEREAS, in 2022, President Biden signed the Dr. Lorna Breen Health Care Provider Protection Act into law, named after an emergency medical physician who died by suicide during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act established grants for "programs to promote mental health and resiliency among health care providers." While this effort is commendable, studies predict that the demand for healthcare workers will outpace supply by 2025. Currently, there is an estimated 446,000-person gap for health aides, a 29,000-person gap for nurse practitioners, and an 11,000-person gap for physicians and surgeons. The U.S. also faces critical shortages of allied health and behavioral health professionals, especially in historically marginalized rural and urban communities.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for pay increases and support efforts to forgive and reduce student loans for healthcare workers, and allied Behavioral Health Professionals to alleviate the financial burden of education costs and incentivize workers to return to their jobs.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP supports legislation that will increase mental health support for healthcare workers, who face increasing demands and are still reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for measures that improves opportunity including increased federal funding through HRSA for Health Career Opportunity Programs and reduce costs for current and potential Black physicians and allied health professionals.