PROJECTDiversifying the Health Care Workforce

African American health care worker

Long-standing racial disparities in health outcomes have affected generations of Americans. As the nation's population continues to diversify, these disparities call for increased attention to historical and present-day discriminatory practices and processes in our public and private health systems. 

Researchers have documented many factors that contribute to racial health disparities in the United States, including inequitable access to health care coverage and receipt of lower-quality health care among people of color. Structural racism, including discrimination in the health care workforce, has driven these disparities in access to health coverage and health-quality, culturally informed health care. Black women, for example, are overrepresented in health care jobs but are concentrated in the lowest-paid, most hazardous roles.

To address these challenges, scholars, physicians, nurses, and policymakers have advocated for diversifying the health care workforce by training more physicians and nurses from systemically excluded backgrounds and ensuring representation in well-paid roles and work environments free of harassment and discrimination.

Researchers in the Urban Institute's Health Policy Center—in partnership with scholars across other centers—are designing a new body of research that aims to advance racial equity in the health care workforce, focusing on African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and Indigenous/Native American students, doulas, midwives, nurses, physicians, fellows, researchers, policymakers, and other health care professionals in the US. This new research program will leverage Urban's research and advising capacities to inform government, philanthropic, and educational leaders, programs, and practices seeking to increase the diversity of the US health care workforce and make recommendations for more inclusive practices in training, research, funding, and professional development programs. 

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