United Health Foundation announced it is awarding nearly $2 million to 175 students from diverse, multicultural backgrounds. The scholarships are part of United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, aimed at increasing diversity in the health care workforce by supporting promising future health professionals. United Health Foundation made the announcement at its fifth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings more than 60 scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., July 24-26 to celebrate the scholars and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system. This year’s event gives these future health care professionals the opportunity to meet and interact with members of Congress and leaders from a variety of health care fields. “United Health Foundation has helped me pursue my dream of becoming a Neurologist. Next year, I will be one of the first in my family to receive an undergraduate degree from a four-year university,” said Jessica Mack, a Biology major at Howard University. “I am truly honored that I was selected, and I’m grateful to United Health Foundation for its financial support and for the opportunity to meet my future colleagues and outstanding leaders in health care and health policy.” According to the American Medical Association and Association of American Medical Colleges, the number of multicultural health professionals is disproportionately low when compared to the overall population. For example, while about 15 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic/Latino, only 5 percent of physicians and 4 percent of registered nurses are Hispanic/Latino. About 12 percent of the population is African American, yet only 6 percent of physicians and 5 percent of registered nurses are African American. Given the changing demographics in the United States and the volumes of people entering the health care system due to the Affordable Care Act, there is an even greater need for a more diverse health care workforce.
Research shows that when patients are treated by health professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and adopt the medical treatment they receive 1. Increasing the diversity of health care providers will reduce the shortage of medical professionals in underserved areas, reduce inequities in academic medicine, and address variables – such as language barriers – that make it difficult for patients to navigate the health care system.By the end of 2013, United Health Foundation will have committed more than $10 million in support of diverse students pursing health careers. “We know patients do best when they are treated by people who understand their language and culture,” said Kate Rubin, president, United Health Foundation. “United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support these outstanding students who are demonstrating impressive purpose and passion and who will help lead the way to better health access and outcomes.” United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative is one facet of the foundation’s commitment to build and strengthen the health workforce. United Health Foundation supports additional programs like STEMPREP, which aims to produce the next generation of researchers in the science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical fields. The foundation also supports A.T. Still University’s Connect the Docs Graduate Loanship Program that provides loan repayments to four qualifying graduates who secure jobs in community health centers. For more information about the Diverse Scholars Initiative, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html. About United Health FoundationGuided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of communities. Since established by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $210 million to improve health and health care. For more information, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org. 1 The Rationale for Diversity in the Health Professions: A Review of the Evidence; U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Bureau of Health Professions; October 2006 Click here to subscribe to Mobile Alerts for UnitedHealth Group.