Diversity: A Happenstance Among Populations, An Evolution In Means Of Providing Health Care
America’s ethnic composition is constantly changing. How does the health care delivery system adjust?
The achievement of diversity is not purely a random event. Concerns exist and solutions are being developed. Can the challenge of caring for a diverse population be met by ensuring that the health care providers reflect the diversity of the population as a whole?
Here’s Tamara E. Holmes’ eye-opening piece, Diversity in the workplace: Healthcare Industry Dives Deep Into Diversity:
Diversity is an issue that all businesses must grapple with, but for healthcare companies, maintaining a diverse workforce takes on a whole new urgency.
Today’s global society means patients that vary in gender, race, and creed are likely to pass through any healthcare organization’s doors. Without a diverse workforce, treating those patients becomes potentially harder as language and cultural misunderstandings can decrease the quality of communication between patients and the medical staff working to help them.
The report, titled “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care,” went on to suggest that the country’s healthcare system would improve by finding ways to increase the percentage of minority healthcare workers at the nation’s hospitals, research organizations and other healthcare facilities. Language barriers can be particularly harmful to doctor-patient relationships. If a patient has a difficult time expressing what’s wrong, a doctor will have that much more difficult of a time diagnosing the problem.
Working to Recruit from All Backgrounds
Joan Reede, Harvard Medical School’s dean for diversity and community partnership, cites several reasons for the disparity in the number of African American, Hispanic/Latino and American Indian healthcare workers. “If people never graduate from high school or college, they never get in the pipeline for professional school,” she says. “But even those who are in the pipeline might not be accepted at the same rate as whites. Scores are important, but schools should also be looking at criteria like language, culture and an interest in serving poor and rural communities.”
Harvard Medical School has developed programs that reach minority youngsters as early as elementary school. “If you’re not exposed to science courses, mentors, after-school programs, internships or career choices, you won’t think of a job in healthcare,” Reede says. “It’s hard to dream of things if you don’t see possibilities.”
Washington Post indicated changing populations in medical school as well:
In the past 15 years, U.S. medicine has seen a huge influx of first- and second-generation immigrants. It follows and augments a different demographic trend that began 30 years ago with the acceptance of increasing numbers of women into medical schools. As a result of that earlier revolutionary change, half of new practitioners today are women. [Full article.]
And a Commission to handle international graduates pursuing further medical training and subsequent practice assures quality of medical professionals providing health care to this diverse population:
Through its program of certification, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG®) assesses the readiness of international medical graduates to enter residency or fellowship programs in the United States that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).
ECFMG offers a variety of other programs and services to physicians educated abroad and other members of the international medical community. [The ECFMG site.]
Diversity is a solution, not a problem. And this makes total sense to me. This is a continuing process that encompasses an entire world in factors, complexities, sensitive vision, and implementation. It is an evolving phenomenon in its own right. Open and intelligent communication among nations and communities empowers diversity to address its own issues.
After all, there is a place for everyone.
photo by G
p.s. This is beyond the scope of this post. But for those who are curious, like myself, about diversity initiatives. Here is one resource I found: Fusion.