Diversityin Healthcare Professions
Howcan universities and other educational institutions play a role inimproving the amount of diversity in healthcare professions?
Asthe world grapples with the challenge of integration of workplaces,it is improper to disregard the root causes of the problem in anendeavor to find a solution. In the U.S.A., Grumbach and Mendoza(2008) note that Latinos, African-Americans and American-Indians aregrossly underrepresented in the healthcare sector. Diversifying sucha workforce requires a profound analysis of all the underpinningfactors. The justifications for the need for an action include thepublic health, educational benefits, the civil rights and businessgains. Arguably, the root causes of the lack of diversity in thehealthcare professions are interwoven into the main fabric of theeducational system. In the U.S, particularly, the mainstreameducation system is unable to meet the educational needs of the lowerclass students as well as those coming from the minority races(Grumbach & Mendoza, 2008). As such, there is a necessity for amultifaceted approach by both the universities and other educationalinstitutions to improve diversity in the sector. The followingdiscussion examines some of the roles these institutions can play inthe quest for diversity in the healthcare profession.
Educationalinstitutions can reach beyond their normal applicant pools. Theprimary embodiment of success in the achievement of diversity is thepopulation of students undertaking a matriculation and subsequentlygraduating from the medical schools nationally. Universities andother educational institutions have always adhered to the guidelinesof the ‘best-practice’ that specifies the number and mode ofintake of students. Even so, some institutions have gone beyond thespecifications to absorb more minority students. Grumbach and Mendoza(2008) still think that these institutions have ended up attractingthe same pool of top class minority applicants. This class ofapplicants is known to receive multiple offers, which consequentlyamount to a zero-sum recruitment for the minority groups.Partnerships are a good place to start in the need for transcendingthe traditional pool of applicants. A specific example is theeducational partnership between the University of Texas-Pan Americanand the Baylor School of Medicine, which concentrated on the Latinominority in South Texas. As a result, the total number of graduatesfrom the university to the medical school drastically increasedfollowing the implementation of the honors program. The case is atypical instance where a harmonized college-level arrangement servedto ameliorate the population of minority medical students from remoteareas joining a medical school.
Besides,universities can focus on partnerships with non-governmentalorganizations as opposed to the federal government programs. Thenursing education benefits more from the private sources than thefederal government (Xue & Brewer, 2014). From time immemorial,the non-governmental sectors have made huge contributions to theexpansion of the nursing workforce and education. The emphasis hasremained on the recruitment of the minority students. The mostsuitable examples include the Johnson & Johnson’s DiscoverNursing and the New Career in Nursing programs. The latter was aninitiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The federalgovernment also started the Workforce Diversity Program in 1998 (Xue& Brewer, 2014). The initiative was aimed at supporting programsthat root for the provision of an educational pipeline to raise thehealth career opportunities, especially for people from disadvantagedbackgrounds. While the federal programs succeeded to achieve most ofits objectives, it is apparent that the incessantly increasingdiversity gap in the nursing professions required more targetedfunding to facilitate the absorption of people of color and Hispanicsinto the workforce. Partnerships with the private organizationsensure a targeted funding that caters for all the needs andobjectives of the mission as opposed to the flat federal funding.Such arrangements are the primary sources of target funding. On thatnote, universities should encourage and seek private partnershipsrather than solely relying on the federal programs.
Educationalinstitutions play a major role in the accreditation process and thesubsequent success of the students. Therefore, to improve diversity,the institutions can seek accreditation before offering healthcareprograms. Powell and Carter (2010) suggest that the bodies in chargeof accreditation, to which educational institutions are part, shouldbe responsible for examining the general aspects of studentretentions in a particular institution. Thus, the institutions canplay the vital role of establishing frameworks that ensure retentionand facilitate their accreditation. Consequently, this will determinethe success of the enrolled students despite their racialbackgrounds. Retention programs become successful when they featurestudent mentoring, support, networking opportunities and educationalsupport. In line with the accreditation specifications, theuniversities and other educational institutions must ensure fullcompliance and zero compromise.
Inconclusion, it is apparent that the education system plays a vitalrole in ensuring diversity in the healthcare professions. Theuniversities and other educational institutions are at the center ofthis pursuit. As such, they can transform their admission policies,encourage and engage in private partnerships as well as comply withthe accreditation guidelines in conformity with the need forimprovement of the diversity.
Grumbach,K., & Mendoza, R. (2008). ‘Disparities in Human Resources:Addressing The Lack of Diversity in the Health Professions.’ HealthAffairs27, no. 2(2008): 413-422.
Powell,D., & Carter, B. (2010). ‘Recruiting and Retaining a DiverseWorkforce in Nursing: From Evidence to Best Practices to Policy.’Sage:Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice11(4) 294-301.
Xue,Y., & Brewer, C. (2014). ‘Racial and Ethnic Diversity of theU.S National Nurse Workforce 1988-2013.’ Sage:Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice0(0) 1-9.