Health Professions Scholarship: Addressing The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare

Health Professions Scholarship: Addressing The Importance of Diversity in Healthcare


The concepts of diversity and healthcare have come into sharp focus in the last year. Conversations surrounding them both have become more complicated and in some ways more tightly intertwined than ever before. As we look at the dynamics of diversity in healthcare, one place we can turn our attention is the workforce itself.

According to the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), a diverse workforce is a key attribute of quality health care. Research shows that a diverse workplace may help with cultural competency, an idea that describes a capacity to understand and interact with different groups of people. Cultural competency is seen as a driver of access to high-quality health care, especially in underserved populations where health care providers from racial and ethnic minority groups are more likely to practice.

Conversely, research also shows that a lack of this diversity limits access to quality care, and that it contributes to ongoing health disparities among communities.

And it’s important to understand that access is far from the only disparity minority communities face. The care itself is not equitable either. A study from 2003 shows African-American patients are treated differently than white patients in several ways, including for cardiovascular procedures, with respect to cancer diagnosis and treatment, and for care they received for H.I.V. infections. They were also more likely to die from these illnesses, even when adjusting for other factors.

Creating a workforce that is diverse and representative of the community it serves is one strategy that can contribute to closing these kinds of gaps. That’s why, over the last four years, Quantum Foundation has contributed $500,000 to increase participation in health care among students from underrepresented groups. To date, the scholarship has benefited 47 college students.

Scholarships are associated with better performance and graduation rates, as well as post-secondary enrollment. And by reducing student debt, scholarships allow students to pursue high-wage, high-demand careers after graduation.


About the Scholarship Program


The Health Professions Scholarship Initiative program targets low-income seniors who are part of either the Palm Beach County School District High School Medical Academies or Florida Atlantic University College of Medicine Health Careers Outreach Program (HCOP). Students from both programs are required to meet high academic and participation standards, in addition to need-based criteria. Other considerations include the high school merits and performance, volunteer work, and commitment to a career in health care.

To maintain its mission of increasing minority participation in medical education, recruitment efforts for the program have been specifically focused on Title I schools and/or those with a concentration of minority students.

Scholarships are awarded to students enrolling in post-secondary education opportunities, and they vary in length from two to four years. Candidacy is focused on students from underrepresented backgrounds with a demonstrated interest in a healthcare related degree or professional certification program offered at Palm Beach State College, Florida Atlantic University, or Palm Beach Atlantic University.

The fund is also responsible for supporting students with mentorship and guidance, including college transitional counseling, academic preparation and other mentorship.


Scholarship Results: A Promising Indicator for Success


Participating scholars in this program have shown a marked increase in persistence and retention in comparison to national benchmarks. Nationally the persistence and retention rate for white students is 78%, and 67% for black students. In our scholarship program, the rate was 81% for the 2017 cohort and 100% for the 2018 cohort.

The news was just as positive in direct interviews, where 93% of scholars reported they would succeed in college; 90% reported having support of family and friends; 85% reported the program has helped toward their goal of working in healthcare; and 93% anticipate getting a job in healthcare.

For more information about our scholarship program and its impact on the community, read our white paper: Increasing the Diversity of the Health Care Workforce.

To apply for the scholarship please visit: