By: Jean Marsters, MD, Committee on Membership & Communications Co-Chair,
The Membership Committee decided to look at the race and ethnic identification of our membership at the end of 2022. We evaluated a Dec 22, 2022, data pull of the race/ethnic identification as entered in ASAM’s membership database by members when they first joined. The option of identifying as multi-racial was not offered as a choice at that time, so at least some of those people may be in the “other” category. We wanted to see if active members in the organization mirrored the race/ethnic composition of all members. As a proxy for active members, we used all members listed on the CSAM website’s committee list that same day. Members on committees were only counted once (people on 2 committees were only counted once). Committees not listed on the website were not included such as Nominations Committee. Activities not appearing on the website such as work groups, task forces and the History Project were not included. Below is the result:
We compared our member numbers with the California Health Care Foundation’s CA Health Care Almanac: A Quick Reference Guide March 202111 which has various breakouts of the racial/ethnic identification of active patient care physicians, California Med School graduates and total population in California in 2019 and 2020 (below):
Some of the numbers that break out:
23% of CSAM members “preferred not to answer” or gave no answer to their racial/cultural affiliation. This was a bit less than the 26% of ASAM physicians who answered the same in 2021.
Comparing all CSAM members with those listed on committees:
White: 44% vs 52%, Asian 12% vs 11%, Hisp/Latino 8% vs 7%, AA 6% vs 2%,
Other 6% vs 3%, AmInd/Alask Nat 1% vs 0%, Nat Hawaii/Other Pac Isl ~ 0.5% vs 0%,
Prefer not to Answer 4% vs 7%
6% of Californians and members are African American, but 2% of committee members listed are.
39% of Californians are Latinx, 8% of members are and 7% of committee members listed are
32% of CA physicians active in-patient care are AA/PI, 12% of members are Asian and 11% of committee members listed are.
33% of CA physicians active in-patient care are White, 44% of members are White and 52% of committee members listed are.
Towards these ends and on behalf of the Membership Committee, I presented this data to the CSAM Board yearly kick-off meeting February 11, 2023, along with the recommendation that the Board reviews this and other data on culture/ ethnicity and develop a longitudinal action plan on diversity.
Since that time, there have been various developments:
The Inclusiveness and Social Justice Advisory Group has been created by our current President, Sharone Abramowitz, MD. This group has links to the Membership Committee through shared members.
Last Winter, MERF and the CSAM Membership Committee teamed up to submit a proof-of-concept paper to the California Health Care Foundation seeking funding to develop training for clinicians from race/ethnic groups underrepresented in medicine. Our request was not funded.
Last Spring, MERF and the CSAM Membership Committee teamed up to submit an application for a MAT Access Points grant to the Sierra Foundation (CA DPH SOR-3 funds) designed to promote addiction prevention and treatment for opioids and stimulants to communities of color in California. We offered to develop an 11-month training spanning 2023-24 for 16 California clinicians who either a) identified as an underrepresented medical minority or b) who work in the Tribal Health or Urban Native Indian Health Care systems in California. Our request was not funded.
From my seat on the ASAM Membership Counsel, I have been advocating for improvements in our ability to measure diversity among our membership. Since CSAM and ASAM require joint membership and membership/demographics are in ASAM’s platforms, by improving our ability to measure, we can improve tracking the diversity and identify gaps which need to be addressed. The next horizon for this is to look at sexual orientation, gender identity and expression (SOGI) numbers among membership which ASAM/CSAM has never tracked.