:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Monday, September 20, 2004  

Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions report

The lack of diversity in the health professions may be a greater cause of health disparities than lack of uninsurance. Discuss amongst yourselves...

Today, the Sullivan Commission released a many paged report (something like 200 pages...suffice it to say I've only had time to skim through the executive summary) entitled Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions. Three of the report's principles are:
  • To increase diversity in the health professions, the culture of health professions schools must change. Colleges, universities, health systems and other organizations must examine the practices of their own institutions.
  • New and non-traditional paths to the health professions must be explored. Major improvements in the K-12 educational system are needed but health professions schools cannot remain stagnant while these improvements take shape.
  • Commitments must be made at the highest levels. Change can happen when institutional leaders support change.

The report also identifies 37 specific action steps (yup, that's thirty-seven. and specific. they're not fuckin' around) including:

  • Shifting the financing of health professions education from student loans to scholarships.
  • Reducing dependency on standardized testing for admission to schools of medicine, nursing and dentistry.
  • Enhancing the role of two-year colleges in preparing students for a career in the health professions.
  • Substantially increasing federal funding to support diversity programs within the National Health Service Corps, and Titles VII and VIII of the Public Health Service Act.

There's something very refreshing about actual "action steps" spelled out in a fancy report. And were these actions to be carried out, we'd have a VERY different health professions workforce than we currently have. The diversity would be fascinating -- not only rightly bringing more "minorities" (I don't like that word, personally, as it makes non-white folks seem lesser), but also bringing in more diversity in economic backgrounds and life-experiences.

I hope to actually read the report in the coming week or two, and I'll keep a link to it on the upper right side of the To the Teeth site (the "check one, check two..." area). I anticipate some good media coverage of the report in the coming weeks too, but it's hard to tell how much or how little. And lastly -- two other links -- the American Medical Student Association put out a press release supporting the report's findings, especially on a few issues that AMSA has devoted much energy and money towards. Also, if you've got a high-speed connection, you can watch the webcast of the release of the Sullivan Commission report (thanks to Kaiser Network's healthcast system).

posted by Anjali Taneja | 9/20/2004 06:34:00 PM | |


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