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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?

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