Photo: Language barriers make it difficult for surgeons to care for patients
A study submitted to the Annals of Surgery suggests that surgeons “treating a large proportion of Hispanic patients were significantly less likely to be satisfied with their careers.” The study believes this could be due to language and cultural barriers.
The new report also points out that more minorities are needed in the surgery field, especially since “an acute shortage of surgeons is anticipated in the future.”
Senior researcher Satish P. Deshpande, of Western Michigan University, said though the surgeons who tended to Hispanic patients were less happy with their job, “you need to be careful with interpreting that finding,” because it could be construed as discrimination, and that is not believed to the cause. The issues that surgeons encounter with Hispanic patients tend to be cultural.
It seemed that a higher proportion of Hispanic patients coincided with a higher number of patients without insurance, which makes money a large issue. Deshpande stated that survey results indentified language as being the major issue for surgeons with more Hispanic patients, but for those with access to translation services for patients, job satisfaction was generally high.
“So we think most of it has to do with language and cultural issues,” Deshpande said. Adding that more translation services and ethnically diverse hospital staff – including surgeons—would help both patients and doctors.
“That’s something that really needs to be looked at. We do need more minorities (in surgical specialties), and more women as well.”
The recent U.S. Census showed that the Hispanic population in the U.S. grew 43 percent from 2000 to 2010, and continues to be the fastest growing minority group.
Despite the increase in Hispanics however, the study found that only about 6 percent of surgeons were Hispanic or African-American, and only 9 percent were women.