Although the average physician might disagree, some nursing leaders have expressed the opinion that nurses may be way ahead of doctors when it comes to addressing the issue of racial and ethnic health disparities. They cite, for example, the formation in 1998 of the National Coalition of Ethnic Minority Nurse Associations (NCEMNA), in which the nation’s five leading minority nursing professional organizations joined forces to aggressively advance the agenda for minority health research and policy change.


If this is indeed the case, two recent developments provide some encouraging signs that America’s physicians are working hard to catch up. Following NCEMNA’s model, a group of four key minority medical associations—the Asian and Pacific Physicians’ Association, the Association of American Indian Physicians, the National Hispanic Medical Association and the National Medical Association (which represents African-American physicians)—have come together to establish the Alliance of Minority Medical Associations (AMMA).

The newly formed coalition’s goals include: increasing the quality of health care and access to care for minority populations; developing awareness, surveillance and treatment programs targeting major chronic diseases that impact racial/ethnic disparities in health; developing strategies to increase the minority health care workforce; and increasing minority community participation in health. One of AMMA’s first projects will be to host a National Health Leadership Summit where leaders from the public and private sectors will work on developing “measurable initiatives to eliminate health disparities.”

Meanwhile, the nation’s largest majority medical specialty organization, the American College of Physicians (ACP), has launched several new minority health initiatives, including a position paper on minority health disparities and a 5K run and walk at its annual convention to raise funds for minority health services in the San Diego area. In addition, ACP has created two patient outreach programs to educate Hispanics about diabetes and African Americans about breast, lung and prostate cancer. For information about these education programs, contact Carolyn McGuire at (202) 261-4572 or [email protected].

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