Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities: Workforce Diversity


Nurse photoThe increasing diversity of the United States population has significant implications for the structure of the health care workforce. People of color now constitute a majority in 48 of the largest cities in the U.S., and five states have “minority majorities.”

The percentage of people that identify themselves as belonging to an ethnic or racial minority is growing—later in this century, it is predicted that nonwhite racial and ethnic groups will constitute a majority of the American population.

A more racially and ethnically diverse population may necessitate a reflection of such diversity in the health care workforce to ensure the delivery of high quality services. This may be desirable to support the elimination of disparities in health and health care, given the evidence that racial and ethnic minorities suffer disparities in areas such as health services utilization, and are underrepresented in the health care workforce.

With at least 90 percent of the U.S. population growth between 2010 and 2050 expected to come from minority groups the issue of workforce diversity is important. A more diverse health care workforce has been shown to help improve access to health and health care for communities of color.

State policymakers seeking to address the health needs of racial and ethnic minority populations are exploring and identifying opportunities to diversity the health care workforce.

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