Proceedings of the 3rd Congress of Health Professions Educators
Building the Workforce for a Diverse Society
With the theme Building the Workforce for a Diverse Society, the 3rd Congress of Health Professions Educators was designed to address a wide range of issues related to diversity. Diversity issues, particularly the expansion of minority participation in health professional schools, have been of concern for several decades. Although many successful educational initiatives were developed, they tended to remain isolated from the mainstream and therefore made only minimal headway in broadening minority participation and encouraging entrance and advancement of minorities into the ranks of leadership. In fact, current data show that minorities are more underrepresented today than 15 years ago.
As we move toward the 21st century, the issue of diversity in the health care workforce is evermore compelling. Demographic trends for the population of the United States reveal tremendous increases in minority populations. An increase in minority participation in the healthcare workforce, while not a guarantee, has been considered a significant means to ensure better access to health care services for these people. Health professions educators have long envisioned that the workforce would more closely mirror the make-up of the populace and they continue to look for new approaches to improve not only the educational and academic experiences but also the attitudes toward and environments for the delivery of services to this diverse patient base.
The papers in this volume span the spectrum of issues that must be confronted in addressing diversity. Together they present an overview ofthe social and economic conditions that will challenge the nation in the 21st century. The papers describe and analyze the implications of changing demographics for health care delivery and academic health centers, the responses of health professions educators to societal change, the perceptions about underrepresented minorities in the workforce, the roles and responsibilities of leaders in changing institutional cultures, the development of model educational programs, factors influencing the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students and faculty members, the impact of mentoring, and the commitments and initiatives still required to ensure success for the future.
Finally, these papers reveal the extent to which questions of diversity in the health professions are intertwined with the larger social and economic landscape of America. In addition, the papers point to the critical role that academic health centers, the institutions where a major portion of the education and training of health professionals occurs, must play in building and supporting programs to attract young people to careers in the health professions. In this regard, leadership and commitments to long-term strategies are required with community-outreach as one of the most important components of the agenda for the future.
Copyright © 1995 by the Association of Academic Health Centers. Available here with permission.