FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative has awarded $100,000 for scholarships
July 24, 2013
American Indian College Fund and United Health Foundation Award $100,000 for Scholarships to American Indian Students Pursuing Health Careers
The scholarships were announced at the 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.
Five scholarships will be awarded to New Mexico tribal college students attending Navajo Technical College; five scholarships will be awarded to Arizona tribal college students attending Dine College or Tohono O’odham Community College; four scholarships will be awarded to students attending Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, or the University of Arizona; and four scholarships will be awarded to students attending San Juan College-Farmington, University of New Mexico-Albuquerque, or Western New Mexico University.
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 receive1. 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.
The scholarships announced today are part of United Health Foundation’s Diverse Scholars Initiative, which has provided nearly $2 million in scholarships this year through partnerships with organizations like the American Indian College Fund. The initiative aims to increase diversity in the health care workforce by supporting promising future health professionals.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to support these exceptional students in their efforts to achieve their educational goals and work to improve our health care system,” said Kate Rubin, president of United Health Foundation. “The Diverse Scholars Initiative helps these scholars fund their education, and gives them an opportunity to learn from one another and interact with experts who are leading the way in improving patient care.”
“The American Indian College Fund is thrilled to continue its partnership with the United Health Foundation. Inequity in health care combined with the highest rates of diabetes, cancer, and other serious diseases have created a vital need for Native health care professionals across Indian Country. These scholarships will help train the next generation of Native healers,” said Dr. Cheryl Crazy Bull, President and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.
For more information about the Diverse Scholars Initiative, visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org/dsi.html.
About United Health Foundation
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.