The United States recently graduated nearly 17,000 medical students across the country. Those students will begin their careers, and while that number isn’t small, it isn’t enough. It is estimated that by the end of this decade, there will be shortage of over 90,000 physicians.
Latinos make up 17 percent of the U.S. population, but only 5.5 percent of graduating physicians between 1978 and 2008 were Latino.
Although there is a lack of Latino representation in the medical industry, Latinos are applying for medical school at a higher rate. The number of Latinos who applied for medical school increased by 7 percent from 2011 to 2012.
It’s not just Latinos who are increasingly applying for medical school. African Americans and Native Americans are applying for medical school at a higher rate as well. However, between Latinos, African Americans and Native American, less than 20 percent of the three groups made up for applicants to medical school.
The reason why there are so few minority medical students is simple: The cost of medical school.
That’s where the Kaiser Permanente Diversity Scholarship comes into play. The scholarship started over ten years ago, and it aims to provide a focus on the future of equity and service in healthcare.
The scholarship is available to a number of communities like Latinos, African Americans, the LGBQT community, veterans, Asian Pacifics and those who are disabled.
“This scholarship is very important because, we really need to assist our community. We need our health care workforce to represent the community we serve. It is important that we are strategically helping our communities, by trying to alleviate some of the stress that is caused around finances,” Andrea Law said. Law is the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Diversity Relations and Community Outreach Specialist, and she has been with the program since its inception.
This year, Kaiser is giving out 20 scholarships to students. The scholarship amounts range from $1500 to $2500.
Those who apply are judged on a number of things before receiving the scholarship. They are judged on academic achievement, community involvement, character qualities and if they are members of a population that is underrepresented in health care.
This year’s recipients come from schools like the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University-Ft. Collins, Regis University and others.
“(Scholarship recipient’s are) all over the state. (The Kaiser Permanente Diversity Scholarship has) a pretty good success rate,” Law said.
Kaiser has the data to back up how impactful its Diversity Scholarship program is. Many of its scholarship recipients went on to be nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals, while others are staying on their mission to finish up medical school.
Kaiser’s study found that its recipients speak a wide range of different languages too such as Spanish, French, Chinese Mandarin and Vietnamese.
Diversity is also important when it comes to men and women in a work place. According to Kaiser’s 2015 study, 64 percent of its scholars were women.
Women are beginning to enroll in medical schools at a higher rate than men, according to data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). According to the study, women enrolling in American medical school outnumbered men for the first last year.
“We are very encouraged by the growing number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools,” Darrell Kirch said. Kirch is the president of the AAMC.