Studies and experts agree that improving the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and rural makeup of our current health professionals would have dramatic impacts on health outcomes and health disparities. Past interventions have not moved the needle, yet few changes have been made in how our training institutions select, accept, matriculate, and graduate students from minority and low-income families and rural areas. These students are more likely to enter primary care specialties, practice in underserved areas, and serve underserved populations.
This is another place the National Health Workforce Commission could play a key role. Best practices from training institutions that make strides toward achieving a diverse workforce could be collected, analyzed, and disseminated.
Both the House and Senate bills also include provisions to help expand the diversity of the health workforce. The Senate bill included funding for programs that focus on diversity training and the establishment of Centers of Excellence on diversity training. Both bills target funding for loan repayment to individuals who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and provide additional awards for cultural and linguistic competency.
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