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In The Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health-Care Workforce
ommendations.2 The reader is referred to the full report for a more detailed discussion of the committee’s findings and recommendations.
Why Is Racial and Ethnic Diversity Important in Health Professions Fields?
A preponderance of scientific evidence supports the importance of increasing racial and ethnic diversity among health professionals. This evidence (some of which is summarized below) demonstrates that greater diversity among health professionals is associated with improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients, greater patient choice and satisfaction, better patient–provider communication, and better educational experiences for all students while in training.
Racial and Ethnic Diversity Among Health Professionals and Access to Health Care for Minority Patients
Racial and ethnic minority health care professionals are significantly more likely than their white peers to serve minority and medically underserved communities, thereby helping to improve problems of limited minority access to care. For example, URM physicians are more likely to treat patients of color (Komaromy et al., 1996), indigent patients, and patients that are sicker (Moy and Bartman, 1995; Cantor et al., 1996) than non-URM physicians. Racial and ethnic minority dentists (Solomon et al., 2001) and psychologists (Turner and Turner, 1996) are also more likely than their white peers to practice in racial and ethnic minority communities.
Diversity and Minority Patient Choice and Satisfaction
Minority patients who have a choice are more likely to select healthcare professionals of their own racial or ethnic background (Saha et al., 2000; LaVeist and Nuru-Jeter, 2002). Moreover, racial and ethnic minority patients are generally more satisfied with the care that they receive from minority professionals (Saha et al., 1999; LaVeist and Nuru-Jeter, 2002), and minority patients’ ratings of the quality of their health care are generally higher in racially concordant than in racially discordant settings (Cooper-Patrick et al., 1999).
Recommendations in this Executive Summary are presented in the order in which they appear and as they are designated in the full report. Enumeration is based on the chapter in which the recommendations are presented. Enumeration begins with recommendations presented in Chapter 2, which are designated as 2-1, 2-2, and so on.