Multicultural Scholarship Helps Close Diversity Shortage Gap in Medicine

Nefertiti Clavon, 22, struggles to keep up with rising tuition costs and other college expenses.

“There were times I felt I was going to have to leave school because of financial situations,” said Clavon, a health promotions student at the University of Houston in Texas. “I’m grateful there is a scholarship available for female students pursuing health care studies."

Clavon is one of 16 recipients of the 2013 Go Red Multicultural Scholarship, part of the American Heart Association and Macy’s Go Red™ Multicultural Scholarship Fund.

The fund — now in its third year — provides $2,500 scholarships for multicultural women pursuing college or graduate school degrees in health care fields. Besides easing the financial burden for students, the American Heart Association and its supporters are striving to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in medicine and increase culturally-sensitive, patient care.

The number of minority medical school graduates is increasing steadily, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. However, the figures are still low compared with the
population at large. For example, among 17,364 medical school graduates in 2011, 6.5% were African American, 7.6% were Hispanic and 21.6% were Asian.

Only 5.4% of African American and 3.6% of Hispanic nurses in the nation are registered nurses, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In contrast, minorities make up 36.6% of the U.S. population.

“Building a diverse physician and medical workforce is a critical component in the delivery of patient-centered care to the multicultural communities that will enter the health care system once the Affordable Care Act is implemented,” said Dr. Jennifer Mieres, senior vice president in the Office of Community and Public Health, chief diversity and inclusion officer for North Shore — LIJ Health System and American Heart Association Go Red For Women spokesperson. “The recruitment of talented, young diverse women into the health care field is a critical step in the delivery of quality, culturally-sensitive, patient-centered care.”

Numerous ethnic groups — including African Americans and Hispanics — are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease and risk factors. They also face barriers to diagnosis and care and experience worse health outcomes than Caucasians.

“Patients like to receive medical care by providers who can speak their same language and understand their cultural background,” said Celia Trigo, executive director and CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses. “Meeting the needs of ethnically diverse patients leads not only to better quality of care, but it also provides opportunities to improve the health of underserved minorities.”

The Go Red™ Multicultural Scholarship is made possible by the Macy’s Multicultural Fund, which was created in 2009 to focus on increasing diversity in the medical field. Macy’s is a founding national sponsor of the American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women® and Go Red Por Tu Corazón, raising more than $46 million since 2004.

“As a long-time partner of the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement and a proud supporter of diversity, Macy’s continues the fight against heart disease in women with the Go Red Multicultural Scholarship Fund,” said Bill Hawthorne, Macy’s senior vice-president of Diversity Strategies. “Encouraging and supporting multiethnic students as they join the ranks of healthcare professionals will more effectively impact the disproportionate rates of heart disease among women in their own communities.”

For more information and to complete an application, visit GoRedForWomen.org. The deadline to apply for 2014 scholarships is Dec. 31, 2013.

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