Four of the American Indian College Fund’s United Health Foundation Scholarship Program students traveled to Washington, D.C. June 21-23 to the United Health Diverse Scholars Forum on Innovations in Chronic Disease Care and Prevention. United Health Foundation supports the American Indian College Fund as a part of its Diverse Scholars Initiative. The Initiative’s purpose is to increase the number of qualified, yet underrepresented, college graduates entering the health workforce.
According to United Health Foundation, research shows that when patients are treated by professionals who share their language, culture and ethnicity, they are more likely to accept and receive medical treatment. Minority health professionals are also more likely to serve minority populations than are health professionals in general and fostering the careers of more diverse and multicultural health professionals will create a more culturally relevant and effective health care system, particularly in underserved communities.
The Foundation hosted the forum to provide the scholars with the inspiration and support they need to continue on their journey to becoming health professionals.The students participated in workshops to learn about the need for innovative solutions to improve access to quality care in an economically sustainable manner for the private sector and government; ways to incorporate cultural competency in health care delivery and how to care for an aging population with chronic care needs; and how to keep pace with chronic disease-related health care needs.
American Indian College Fund scholarship students participating at the forum included:
• Tenai Roan, a senior at Arizona State University studying nursing, who plans to be a midwife. Tenai was also a student speaker at the forum;
• Karen King, a graduate of Diné College who is pursuing nursing studies at Northern Arizona University. Karen was also a student speaker at the forum;
• Nizhoni Clinton, a junior at Grand Canyon University studying nursing; and
• Saraphina James-Nutlouis, a junior at Navajo Technical College studying nursing who plans to become a respiratory therapist.
Karen King said, “This experience has motivated me to pursue a career in the health field. One speech 'hit home' in regards to the ever-increasing incidence of Diabetes I & II among people of the world, that it is preventable, and people need to be educated to make lifestyle changes and choices. If given the opportunity to join the American Indian College Fund on the next journey, take the opportunity and embrace it, it is a stepping stone toward achieving your educational goal. I enjoyed the company of all, the United Health Foundation faculty, the various speakers, the many students from throughout the United States, and the American Indian College Fund staff and sponsors. Thank you (Ahee'hee).”