Race & Ethnicity of California’s Health Workforce

Hispanic people represent more than 39 percent of California’s population but are underrepresented in every workforce category and region amongst 47 key licensed health professionals.  

Why are the Race & Ethnicity of our Health Workforce important?

Racial and ethnic representation is critical for a successful relationship between patients and their healthcare providers. Studies show that patient safety and quality of care increase when health care providers and their patients share the same race or ethnicity. By understanding the racial and ethnic makeup of our health workforce, we can better identify areas of over and under representation and improve HCAI’s efforts to build a diverse and effective workforce.

Key Findings

  • Hispanics are the most underrepresented group in the health workforce, at nearly 50 percent below the population average statewide. They are also underrepresented in all six workforce categories and all nine regions in California.
  • Several groups in the health workforce are represented well above their population average statewide; Asians are represented at nearly twice the population average, and Pacific Islanders and Other Races at three times the population average.
  • These patterns of representation are consistent across regions, but vary dramatically by workforce category and license type for all groups except Hispanics.
  • The representation of Whites has decreased significantly over the last 30 years in all regions and workforce categories.
  • Over the last 20 years, the Medicine workforce category has shown the least change in its Racial and Ethnic diversity.

Note: Data represents a custom tabulation of healing arts survey responses from licenses in active status on July 1st, 2023. Population data and groupings are provided by the US Census Bureau as of 2021.

How HCAI Created This Product

  • Licensure data was collected by the Department of Consumer Affairs; all data presented represents a snapshot of the active licensee population on July 1st, 2023.
  • This product is based on HCAI Health Workforce License Renewal Survey data; all data presented as of July 1st, 2023. The responses to these surveys were adjusted using cell-based weighting to create estimates of the full population. Decline to State answers were excluded from the data for each visualization. Licenses without an Issue Date were excluded from the License Issue Date visualization.
  • Population data was retrieved from the US Census Bureau’s DP05 ACS Demographic and Housing Estimates 2021 ACS 5 year estimate. Race & Ethnicity groups were defined using the US Census Bureau’s definitions of Race and Ethnicity. These data are reported at overarching race and ethnicity categories for accurate comparison to the Census. These groupings may mask the representation of subgroups; for example, an underrepresentation for Vietnamese as a subgroup may be masked when grouped with all Asians as a Census Race & Ethnicity group.
  • Regions were defined by California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and are listed below:
Central CoastMonterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Ventura
Greater Bay AreaAlameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma
Inland EmpireRiverside, San Bernardino
Los Angeles CountyLos Angeles
Northern and SierraAlpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yuba
Orange CountyOrange
Sacramento AreaEl Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yolo
San Diego AreaImperial, San Diego
San Joaquin ValleyFresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare
  • Workforce Categories were defined by HCAI using License Type and are listed below:
Workforce CategoryLicense Types
Advanced Practice NursingClinical Nurse Specialist, Licensed Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner
Allied HealthAdvanced Practice Pharmacist, Audiologist, Chiropractor, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine, Licensed Acupuncturist, Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Optometrist, Pharmacy Technician, Physical Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, Polysomnographic Technician, Polysomnographic Technologist, Psychiatric Technician, Registered Pharmacist, Respiratory Care Practitioner, Speech Pathologist, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
Behavioral HealthAssociate Clinical Social Worker, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Educational Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, Psychologist, Registered Psychological Associate
MedicineNaturopathic Doctor, Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon, Physician and Surgeon, Physician Assistant
NursingPublic Health Nurse, Registered Nurse, Vocational Nurse
Oral HealthDentist, Orthodontic Assistant, RDA In Extended Functions, RDH Alternative Practice, RDH Extended Function, Registered Dental Assistant, Registered Dental Hygienist

Additional Information

Topic: Health Workforce
Source Link: HCAI Heath Workforce Race & Ethnicity Data
Citation: HCAI – Health Workforce Race & Ethnicity Data – Race & Ethnicity of California’s Health Workforce, 2023
Temporal Coverage: Current as of July 1, 2023
Spatial/Geographic Coverage: Regional
Frequency: Annual