Building a 21st Century Health Workforce
A diverse health workforce and the unique perspective it brings contributes to enhanced communication, health care access, patient satisfaction, decreased health disparities and improved problem-solving for complex problems.1 Cultivating a health workforce that reflects our society at large and delivering personalized, culturally competent care will raise the quality of health care across the board and help spur innovation. That's why United Health Foundation is devoted to nurturing the 21st century health workforce through the Diverse Scholars Initiative.
The Diverse Scholars Initiative works to create a more relevant health workforce, particularly in underserved communities, by increasing the number of primary care health providers ready to meet future health care needs.
Students who participate in the Diverse Scholars Initiative are passionate, hardworking and eager to give back to their communities. Many scholars plan to work in underserved communities and community health centers, tackling population health challenges and health care shortages that have a huge impact on low-income and minority communities. One of these shortages is the need, nationwide, for more primary care physicians. According to America's Health Rankings, only approximately 127 primary care physicians are available for every 100,000 people across the country, and nine states have fewer than 100 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents.2
Since the inception of the Diverse Scholars Initiative in 2007, United Health Foundation has provided more than $13 million in funding in support of nearly 1,850 scholarships. However, investing in the country's 21st century health workforce is not limited only to multi-year financial support. The Diverse Scholars Initiative also provides mentor and internship programs, and assistance with monitoring graduation rates and professional outcomes. Scholars must demonstrate financial need, the pursuit of a degree that will lead to a career as a primary care health professional, and a commitment to working in underserved communities.
Investing in our future health workforce helps to ensure our nation's health care system is the most effective and innovative system in the world. These students all have compelling stories that demonstrate why they are committed to building a better future workforce that can create a 21st century health care system for our country.
1 The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health
2 America's Health Rankings 2015 Annual Report