Underserved Populations

I’m looking at a table that lists, “Experience with under-served populations,” as a point of evaluation yet have no idea what/who would be categorized under that. Can anyone provide clarity with who is categorized under that?

This is a great question and one that I see a lot on various medical school websites.

Underserved is a term that cover a number of categories, in my opinion. There are underserved populations in terms of a small physician to population ratio. There are underserved populations, too, that are socioeconomic and/or ethnic groups that are unable to afford the same level of care others may receive (e.g., insurance holders, U.S. citizens, etc.). Underserved can be rural, suburban, or urban. There are places in Washington, DC, for example, that have limited access to reliable, safe and affordable health care even though the region boasts a high number of physicians.

There are a couple U.S. government websites, too, that help define or clarify what an underserved population is:

Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) and Medically Underserved Populations (MUPs) identify geographic areas and populations with a lack of access to primary care services.

MUAs have a shortage of primary care health services for residents within a geographic area such as:

a whole county;
a group of neighboring counties;
a group of urban census tracts; or
a group of county or civil divisions.

MUPs are specific sub-groups of people living in a defined geographic area with a shortage of primary care health services. These groups may face economic, cultural, or linguistic barriers to health care. Examples include, but are not limited to, those who are:

Native American; or
migrant farmworkers.

MUA/P designations are based on the Index of Medical Underservice (IMU). IMU is calculated based on four criteria:

the population to provider ratio;
the percent of the population below the federal poverty level;
the percent of the population over age 65; and
the infant mortality rate.

Source: https://bhw.hrsa.gov/shortage-designation/muap

Another good reference is: https://data.hrsa.gov/tools/shortage-area/hpsa-find

Hope that helps start a conversation on what underserved populations means!

Anyone else have thoughts?