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Resources for Minorities in Healthcare

Resources for Minorities in Healthcare

John Rossheim | Monster Contributing Writer

People from minority backgrounds are often underrepresented in many healthcare occupations as well as in the upper ranks of healthcare organizations. “While ethnic minority groups continue to increase in absolute numbers and as a proportion of the general population (more than 25 percent), the number of professionally trained minority mental health providers and service researchers (currently around 8 percent) is not increasing in a similar manner,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Combine this with the chronic shortage of healthcare workers in the US, and minority job seekers who tap the right resources will have many opportunities to advance in this field.

“I can see a huge need for people of color or people competent with certain populations,” says Vicky Lomay, a doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia who is doing an internship at a rehabilitation hospital in rural Missouri.

“I can provide culturally sensitive services and teach others how to do so,” says Lomay, a Navajo who grew up on a reservation in Arizona. “A lot of times, people think of American Indians in stereotypical ways; they don’t know what American Indians are like today.”

Opportunities Begin Before College

When should young people from diverse backgrounds start to explore healthcare careers? For some, the process can begin even before college.

“We recruit Latino students age 17 and up in the public schools for our Discovering Healthcare Careers program,” says Maria Rivera, human resources and workforce development consultant at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Participants in the six-week summer program hear presentations from healthcare professionals about their careers and also shadow healthcare workers.

“We felt the need to start this program to let students know that these careers exist,” Rivera says. “Going to job fairs, I found that there weren’t any Latinos.”

Students interested in finding similar outreach programs in their areas should contact the human resources department or diversity office at local teaching hospitals.

Another way to learn about healthcare careers is through an occupation-specific professional association. For example aspiring nurses of diverse backgrounds can learn more about nursing careers by contacting the National Black Nurses Association, the National Association of Hispanic Nurses, the Philippine Nurses Association of America or the Transcultural Nursing Society.

Groups representing diverse workers in other healthcare professions include the Association of Black Health-System Pharmacists, the National Association of Puerto Rican/Hispanic Social Workers and the American Association for Women Radiologists. A career counselor or librarian can help you locate additional resources.

Finding Financial Aid

When aspiring healthcare professionals begin to seriously consider getting the training to enter the field, financing their education is an immediate and long-term concern. Fortunately, financial aid is available through educational institutions and other sources.

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