The United States’ Latino population has risen 243 percent since 1980, but according to a recent study by the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), the number of Latino physicians per 100,000 Latinos has drastically dropped by 22 percent since then.
Dr. Gloria Sanchez, the study’s main author said the shortage of Latino physicians could hurt health care for Latinos in the United States.
“Our research finds a very concerning trend of a growing Latino population that may not have the ability to find physicians who can provide language and culturally concordant care,” Sanchez said in a press release from UCLA. “It demonstrates the urgent need for analysis of how the rapidly growing Latino population will have adequate access to high-quality care both now and in the future.”
Kaiser Permanente is working to solve that shortage by increasing diversity in the medical field through its Diversity Scholarship Program. The program was created through Kaiser Permanente Colorado’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Department as a way to provide financial assistance to minorities seeking education in public health, or health care.
“These scholarships help promising young minds attend college. Some of which are the first in their family to do so,” said Andréa Law, Kaiser Permanente Colorado Diversity Relations and Community Outreach Specialist.
The scholarships aim to provide a focus on the future of equity and service in healthcare. The program started 12 years ago and applicants can be awarded $2,000 to $5,000. In order to qualify for the scholarships students must be a Colorado resident, a graduating high school senior, or GED recipient, entering a post-secondary school and must have maintained a GPA of 2.7.
Students who identify as Latino, African American, Asian Pacific, Native American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, a U.S. veteran, or disabled are encouraged to apply for the scholarships.
While some may not seek the path of a medical doctor, there are many other health care careers available. “We’ve awarded scholarships to well-deserving, underrepresented students within Colorado who are planning to pursue careers in health care,” Law said. “They increase interest in a workforce that faces care provider shortages.”
Following the application process students are judged on a number of factors such as academic achievement, character qualities, community involvement and if they are members of a diverse population that is underrepresented in health care.
“We’re proud of these students who are critical to ensuring the industry continues to advance medical information security and care delivery,” Law said.
This Friday Kaiser Permanente will host its Diversity Scholarship breakfast event where scholarship recipients will be announced. La Voz is a proud sponsor of the event.
Kaiser Permanente Colorado is currently the largest nonprofit health plan in the state. It has provided health care to Coloradans for over 48 years. The National Committee for Quality Assurance named Kaiser Permanente as the top ranked commercial health plan in Colorado.
Two true examples of diversity within the health field, are Carlos Jaquez and Filiberto Morales. Jaquez graduated from Colorado State University this year and will be starting medical school at the University of Colorado School of Medicine next month. His field of interest is either Family Medicine or Orthopedics.
Jaquez says, I just received the Kaiser Permanente Diversity Scholarship on May 30th for the first time. I’d like to express my gratitude to Kaiser Permanente for promoting diversity and awarding scholarships to those who come from under-privledged communities.”
Filiberto Morales is currently a medical student at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and will begin his second year next month. When asked what career path he’d be taking, Morales responded, “I am not sure what kind of physician I want to be yet. What I do know is that I want to work in undeserved communities. Right now I am considering Family Medicine or Internal Medicine. This is the third time I have been awarded the Kaiser Permanente Diversity Scholarship. I received it the year before and once as an undergraduate.”
Morales also coaches U14-18 boys soccer at the Vickers Boys and Girls Club in his spare time.