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Public Urban Universities & Medical Colleges Unite in Effort to Improve Health Equity by Building a More Diverse, Culturally Competent Health Care Workforce

June 26, 2017

Washington, DC – In an effort to help diversify the nation’s health workforce and address persistent gaps in health equity, Urban Universities for HEALTH (Health Equity through Alignment, Leadership, and Transformation of the Health workforce) launched an initiative on Monday, June 26 to help universities design and track evidence-based approaches aimed at building a more diverse and culturally competent health care workforce that better serves communities in need. Urban Universities for HEALTH is a joint initiative of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities that is funded by the National Institutes of Health.

“Public research universities expect to and must play a central role in diversifying our nation’s health workforce and reducing disparities in health outcomes,” said APLU President Peter McPherson. “Institutions want evidence-based strategies to achieve those goals and track their progress. Urban Universities for HEALTH’s effort will make critically important strides in helping institutions drive and document progress in this space.”

A diverse health and biomedical workforce is key to providing health care to historically underserved populations, improving the cultural awareness and understanding of health workers, and reducing disparities in health outcomes. Ensuring the health care workforce reflects the population it serves is also vitally important to improving the scientific knowledge base that health care providers rely on to guide their work. Recent studies have shown that ethnically diverse co-authors produce higher-quality research as measured by the number of citations and the journal impact factor, a widely used gauge of research’s impact. Another recent study found journal articles written by gender-heterogeneous teams received a third more citations and are more likely to be viewed as higher-quality in the peer-review process.

The new Urban Universities for HEALTH effort is centered on a web-based platform that helps institutions design proven strategies to improve diversity in STEM fields that feed into the health workforce and monitor progress toward their student recruitment, faculty diversity, and health equity objectives. The toolkit is aimed at helping universities with advanced investments in health workforce development, as well as those that are just starting in the space.

The toolkit includes:

  • An interactive web tool to select strategies, indicators, and measures that align with an institution’s unique mission and local needs;
  • A white paper exploring the context for the toolkit’s indicators and the related evidence base;
  • Case studies from the Urban Universities for HEALTH demonstration sites to highlight best practices using the strategies and data in the toolkit; and
  • Sample institutional dashboards to demonstrate how data might be displayed.

The toolkit will be introduced during a free webinar Monday, June 26, from 3:00-4:00 p.m. EDT. University leaders, diversity professionals, public health experts, funding agencies, and all others with an interest in preparing the future health workforce are invited to attend (register here).

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For more information about the web launch, the toolkit, and Urban Universities for HEALTH, please visit www.urbanuniversitiesforhealth.org/toolkit

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