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In The Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health-Care Workforce
for holding health professional training programs and their institutional sponsors accountable for advancing goals tied to racial and ethnic diversity of their students and trainees, from a legal perspective, it is important that the principles be applied in the most effective venue. In that regard, while community benefit laws and associated public expectations have evolved out of a tax exemption context, the most practical application of concepts for increased institutional accountability are outside of the tax exemption arena, and are best applied in the accreditation world.
Community benefit principles provide insights for the public expectations of both nonprofit health-care providers and institutions that train these providers. Just as nonprofit hospitals are expected to play a role in addressing priority unmet needs in local communities, HPEIs can appropriately be expected to play a direct role in responding to priority unmet health needs at the local and/or societal level. Furthermore, for publicly sponsored colleges and universities, community benefit concepts might also link governmental subsidies for these public institutions of higher education to performance measures related to student and trainee diversity goals. Community benefit principles should therefore form a conceptual cornerstone by which health professions education accreditation organizations and state governments can set expectations for the advancement of societal goals tied to racial and ethnic diversity of the health-care workforce.
Recommendation 6-1: HPEI governing bodies should develop institutional objectives consistent with community benefit principles that support the goal of increasing health-care workforce diversity including, but not limited to efforts to ease financial and nonfinancial obstacles to URM participation, increase involvement of diverse local stakeholders in key decision-making processes, and undertake initiatives that are responsive to local, regional, and societal imperatives (see Recommendation 5-4).
Recommendation 6-2: Health professions accreditation institutions should explore the development of new standards that acknowledge and reinforce efforts by HPEIs to implement community benefit principles as they relate to increasing health-care workforce diversity.
Recommendation 6-3: HPEIs should develop a mechanism to inform the public of progress toward and outcomes of efforts to provide equal health care to minorities, reduce health disparities, and increase the diversity of the health-care workforce.
Recommendation 6-4: Private and public (e.g., federal, state, and local governments) entities should convene major community benefit stake-