BOX 1-1
Fast Facts—Diversity and Health Care

  • Nearly one in five Spanish-speaking U.S. residents delayed or refused needed medical care because of language barriers (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2001).

  • Nearly 2 in 5 Latinos, 27 percent of Asian Americans, 23 percent of African Americans, and 16 percent of whites reported communication problems with their doctor (Collins et al., 1999).

  • Nearly half of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have problems with availability of mental health services because of limited English proficiency and lack of providers who have appropriate language skills (U.S. Surgeon General, 2001).

  • African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans with mental health needs are less likely than whites to receive treatment. If treated, they are likely to have sought help in primary care, as opposed to mental health specialty care, and African Americans are less likely than whites to receive evidence-based mental health care in accordance with professional treatment guidelines (U.S. Surgeon General, 2001).

  • Less than 13 percent of the 8.6 million patients seen in community health centers (CHCs), which primarily serve minority and low-income patients, received preventive and basic dental care in 1998 (Mertz and O’Neill, 2002).

  • About 45 percent of Californians who have low incomes or who have low English proficiency did not receive dental care in the past year (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 2003).

  • An increase of more than 20,000 minority nurses is needed to increase the proportion of minority nurses by just 1 percent (National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice, 2000).

  • considering the application of community benefit principles to improve the accountability of nonprofit, tax exempt institutions (e.g., medical schools and teaching hospitals) to the diverse racial and ethnic communities they serve; and

  • identify mechanisms to garner broad support among health professions leaders, community members, and other key stakeholders to implement these strategies.


Historically, the efforts of HPEIs and professional associations to increase the presence of URM students in health professions careers have focused on enhancing students’ preparation to pursue these careers. Appro-

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