Local physician wants to promote diversity in medicine

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

Dr. Johanna Vidal-Phelan came to the U.S. from Puerto Rico at just 17 years old and since, she has committed her career to diversify the field of medicine.

According to Vidal-Phelan, less than 6% of the physicians in the U.S. are Latino and only 2% are Latina which creates not only a lack of cultural understanding but may also create a language barrier between doctor and patient.

Research shows that the Latino population is the fastest-growing ethnic group in Pennsylvania and when the coronavirus pandemic hit, Dr. Vidal-Phelan found this population was left largely uninformed.

“In the first two weeks of the pandemic, as I was seeing patients, the families were coming to me for their wellness visits and saying, ‘Doctor, can you tell me about what this COVID thing is?’ and it hit me that we had been putting this information in the news for two weeks, schools were shutting down, but my community didn’t know what was happening. They had no knowledge. It was so limited,” she explains.

Dr. Vidal-Phelan teamed up with ABC27 to educate the Latino community.

We’ll have more on the work she is doing there and how she is working to influence the next generation of doctors through mentorship and sponsorship during our Hispanic Heritage special which airs October 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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