New Research: For Minority Students Aiming for Health Careers, Giving Back is the Prime Motivation

  • United Health Foundation poll finds minority health students want to change people’s lives for the better
  • Even in tough economy, the desire to give back topped potential financial rewards nearly three to one
  • Ninety-eight percent of students polled say financial hurdles are a significant barrier to their education and career goals
  • Research released as part of fourth annual United Health Foundation Diverse Scholars Forum in Washington, D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — 

Minority students pursuing health careers are far more motivated by a desire to serve their community than by potential financial rewards, according to new research released today by United Health Foundation.

When asked what is the single most important motivation, 46 percent of minority scholars cited having a positive impact on people’s lives as their top reason for pursuing a health career. Only 17 percent cited salary or income.

Money is not a primary motivation for these students; however it is a primary source of stress and discouragement. Of those polled, 98 percent said financial hurdles are a significant barrier to achieving their education and career goals.

To address this shortfall, United Health Foundation is awarding more than $1.2 million in scholarships to more than 200 students from diverse, multicultural backgrounds. From 2007 through this year, United Health Foundation will have awarded nearly 1,000 scholarships, totaling more than $5 million, to students throughout the country.

The research, conducted by APCO Insight and funded by United Health Foundation, polled about 500 minority students pursuing health careers. More than 60 percent of respondents said there are not enough minority health professionals. One in four said they had never been treated by a health professional of the same or similar racial or ethnic background as themselves. Nearly 90 percent said they are interested in working to serve a community with the same or similar racial or ethnic background as themselves.

The research is being released in conjunction with United Health Foundation’s fourth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings 76 scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., this week to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system.

“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 help support these outstanding students who are demonstrating impressive purpose and passion and who will help lead the way to better health access and outcomes.”

The Diverse Scholars Initiative is administered through partnerships with a variety of nonprofit and civic organizations; United Health Foundation does not select the recipients. Scholarship recipients must demonstrate financial need, the pursuit of a degree that will lead to a career in a health field and a commitment to working in underserved communities, including community health centers. Additional requirements and application deadlines vary by organization.

For more information about the research and the Diverse Scholars Initiative visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html.

About United Health Foundation
Guided 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. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999 as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than $193 million to improve health and health care. For additional information, please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org

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New Research: For Minority Students Aiming for Health Careers, Giving Back is the Prime Motivation