IntroductionWhen compared to the actual percentage of U.S. black doctors, 4.1%, there appears to be a substantially high percentage of black doctors on television. We took a look into past and present shows to gauge African American representation, as doctors, on medical television dramas.MethodsWe conducted a review of 2 comprehensive lists of medical TV shows to evaluate the representation of African American physicians on medical drama television series from 1980 to present. ResultsFrom 1980 to present, there were 37 medical dramas featured in the US. Of these shows, we found that Black doctors made up 18.8% of the physicians portrayed. Data also suggested a relative increase in representation of black doctors as time progressed. In the 1980s, black doctors represented 11.36% of the physicians. While, in currently airing shows, black doctors make up 25.3% of TV physicians. 3 of the most popular and currently running shows, Grey’s Anatomy, Chicago Med, and New Amsterdam had percentages of 31.0%, 38.9%, and 30.8% respectively. ConclusionThe US census Bureau estimates that African Americans make up 13.4% of the total U.S. population. Our review found that the percent of black doctors represented on currently airing medical shows is 25.3%, nearly double the proportion of African Americans in the U.S. In reality, Blacks are profoundly underrepresented in medicine. The latest comprehensive data estimates that African American physicians total just around 4%. While achieving the equity demonstrated on medical TV dramas would be ideal, it has proven to be an uphill battle in the real-life medical community. We hope that this review helps continue the much-needed discussion to push for equity in healthcare.
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