Increasing minority representation in the health care professions

J Allied Health. 2007 Fall;36(3):165-75.


Although race is a social construct with no scientific credibility, it is a powerful predictor of diminished health outcomes and health care delivery in the United States. Minorities who enter health professions provide a disproportionate quantity of health care services to minorities, the underserved, and poor. The goal of having a health care delivery system with similar demographics to the population it serves is seriously lacking in most health care professions. The author of this commentary proposes that health care educators should be more aggressive in admitting and recruiting students from minority communities through the use of affirmative action. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Grutter v. Bollinger, not only supports this approach but also gives guidance for implementation. Under the general category of admission strategies, two strategies are proposed: (1) a defensible structure for admission using race/ethnicity as a factor and (2) expanded criteria for student selection. Under recruitment strategies, four strategies are offered: (1) outreach to kindergarten through 12th grade, (2) better informing school career counselors, (3) advertising possibilities, and (4) community involvement through local school boards. Because affirmative action in admissions is the most controversial and complex set of strategies, this report focuses particularly on this area.

MeSH terms

  • Allied Health Occupations / education*
  • Competency-Based Education
  • Cultural Competency / education*
  • Cultural Diversity*
  • Education, Medical / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Education, Medical / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Minority Groups / education*
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Prejudice
  • School Admission Criteria*
  • Schools, Health Occupations / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Schools, Health Occupations / organization & administration*
  • Supreme Court Decisions
  • United States