Issues in Healthcare /
On this page: Health/Healthcare Disparities | Workforce Diversity | Cultural Competence
As a health professions student, you need to be aware of the complex issues that shape the field of health in the United States.
Some of the most urgent topics today revolve around our nation’s need to eliminate inequities in the quality and availability of healthcare for ethnic, racial, and economic minorities.
Closely connected to this is the need to increase both the diversity and the cultural competence of our healthcare workforce.
For links to resources on other health policy issues, see Health Policy Topics.
For links to diversity-focused career and education opportunities, see Links.
To take action on these or other healthcare issues, see the "Service & Volunteerism" section of Humanism in Healthcare.
Persons in families who are poor (14.7 percent) are about twice as likely as persons in high income families (7.2 percent) to be unable to get or delayed in getting needed medical care, dental care, or prescription medicines in the last 12 months.
Non-Hispanic blacks residing in a non-Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) were less likely to have seen the doctor for a routine preventive visit, compared to non-Hispanic blacks residing in an MSA.
Based on information from the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality (AHRQ) National Healthcare Disparity 2011 Report, Blacks received worse care than Whites for 41% of quality measures. Asians and American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) received worse care than Whites for about 30% of quality measures. Hispanics received worse care than non-Hispanic Whites for 39% of measures.
Numerous studies in recent years have documented disparities in the quality of health and healthcare among different racial, ethnic and socio-economic groups.
For more information about health disparities, see:
In 2004, the Sullivan Commission published Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions, its landmark report on the lack of diversity in the U.S. health workforce.
Since then, numerous authorities in the healthcare field have agreed that increasing diversity in the health workforce is essential, if we are to effectively address the problem of healthcare disparities in the United States. Experts have identified several strategies to increase diversity in the health care workforce, including improving primary and secondary education and changing admissions policies in health professions schools, including medical schools.
Here is a sampling of online resources about health workforce diversity:
Enter virtually any American healthcare facility and you will see it: patients from all over the world struggling to negotiate the U.S. healthcare system, and clinicians struggling to understand and meet their needs. But cultural competency is more than speaking another language. It means being aware of and responding to the sensibilities of patients whose cultures and values may be very different from your own.
In April 2000, the Commonwealth Fund awarded a grant to the " Stanford University Center for Biomedical Ethics to create an educational tool that would bring clarity to the issue of cross cultural health. The documentary film “WORLDS APART”follows four families of diverse backgrounds facing critical medical decisions, and reveals how the patient's culture contrasts with the culture of the American health care system.
For more information on cultural competency, we encourage you to check these links and conduct further research on your own:
Please keep in mind that these are just a few of the websites addressing some of the current issues. We urge you to continue researching these and other topics on your own.
If you've found a useful website on a healthcare issue you care about - please share it! Email us a brief description of the resource, why you find it useful, and the website's URL to email@example.com
Last updated: December 6, 2013
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