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Study Highlights Need for More Diverse Healthcare Workforce in California

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With California facing a serious shortage of health care workers as it copes with COVID-19,a recent report from The Greenlining Institute looks at the barriers that keep young people of color out of the health field and what can be done to overcome those barriers.

The report, Opening Pathways for Youth of Color: The Future of California’s Health Workforce, notes that while Black, Latino and Native American communities make up 62% of California’s people, less than six percent of California physicians are Latino and just five percent are Black. In partnership with the Alameda County Health Pathway Partnership program, The Greenlining Institute conducted surveys and a focus group with program alumni to get a picture of the challenges they face in pursuing health careers and what sorts of support would reduce those challenges.

“Young people of color want to work in the health care field, but too many obstacles get in their way,” said report co-author Christian Beauvoir. “The starkly higher rate of COVID-19 deaths for Black and Latino Californians reminds us how important it is to have a diverse health workforce that can deliver culturally competent care.”

Among the report’s key findings:

Challenges young people of color faced include:

• Finances, including cost-prohibitive expenses associated with college applications and tuition

• Transportation, with lengthy commutes and lack of money forcing many to use riskier transportation alternatives to cut costs

• Lack of support systems to help them get into and navigate higher education

Key supportive factors participants cited include:

• Exposure to a variety of health careers and professionals

• Social support and mentorship, particularly for first-generation and low-income youth

• Financial assistance that eased the cost burden and reduced the need to choose between further education and holding a job to support themselves and their families

The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations designed to reduce the barriers cited and increase the availability of support, including the passage of Proposition 16 to allow the state to more effectively address racial disparities in education.

Ultimately, however, Proposition 16, which would have repealed California’s law that prevents UCLA and other public universities from considering race in admissions, was defeated during the elections of November 3rd elections when more than 57% of Californians voted no on the measure.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic public policy, research and advocacy institute, visit greenlining.org.


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