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With the growing need to build synergy between U.S. Hispanic patients and the medical community especially in states with high Hispanic populations, Center for Hispanic Leadership’s December 2nd forum, Strengthening the Hispanic Pipeline in Healthcare and Biomedical Fields, hosted at City of Hope in Duarte, California, featured leaders from City of Hope, Citrus Valley Health Partners, Duarte Unified School District, Pew Hispanic Center, and the Texas Medical Association as well as prominent subject matter experts.
“With only five percent of physicians in the United States Latino and the lack of targeted culturally-relevant healthcare information, education, and outreach to Hispanics,” said Glenn Llopis, CHL CEO/Founder, “the focus of the forum was to awaken a conversation that is long overdue about how the Hispanic talent pipeline can be developed.”
As the numbers clearly indicate, in California the Hispanic population indexes well above the national average yet the percentage of Hispanic physicians is also only five percent. More concerning is the fact that in the next 12 months an increasing percentage of Hispanics will become insured, while the ratio of those who can best serve them is declining – inevitably leading to a significant wave that will rock the healthcare industry. Added Llopis, “This is not a Hispanic issue but a demographic shift that the healthcare system – whose identity is still in crisis – is not currently addressing.”
As the numbers of Hispanics continue to increase (55 million), more Hispanic leaders and role models in all industries are needed, but particularly in healthcare for two major reasons: 1) professional healthcare is not necessarily something Hispanics were raised with or see the value in, and therefore they may not seek it out; and 2) the urgency is greater in this industry because the lack of research and outreach to the community directly affects their health and well-being. “The American Medical system has fallen short in its outreach efforts to educate and make Hispanics more healthcare literate,” explained Dr. Carlos Cardenas, Chair of the Texas Medical Association Board of Trustees and one of the CHL forum panelists. “Socio-economic, financial pressures and health illiteracy make it difficult. The medical community must better educate Hispanics, make them more knowledgeable about preventive care. We must put them in the driver’s seat.”
According to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in order for the U.S. to remain globally competitive in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the country will need to train 1 million STEM professionals over the next 10 years. Currently, educational institutions are tackling this situation and trying to discern why STEM careers are not drawing more Hispanics and best practices to remedy this issue.
Another forum panelist, Stephanie Neuvirth, Chief Human Resources and Diversity Officer at City of Hope, which serves Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange and San Bernardino counties, knows this urgent need extremely well. Those counties include 48% of COH’s catchment/service area (16% of the total U.S. Hispanic population). "Our commitment at City of Hope is to be extremely active in conversations that support the changing demographic in the U.S.," she explained. "We are aware of the increasingly important role ethnicity plays in education, treatment, and cures and the need for more diverse employees - from physicians and researchers, to executive leaders, dietitians and community outreach workers, and we are making every effort to be proactive with our intentions to welcome diverse populations."
With the goal of building a Hispanic talent pipeline, the opportunities in the healthcare and biomedical professional fields for Hispanics as well as leveraging government, educational, business, and professional organizations as well as community partners throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Los Angeles county, the two-hour thought-leadership forum featured an interactive discussion between a panel of senior leaders in the healthcare industry and other prominent subject matter experts who spoke from the floor. After this solution-centric conversation, the forum was followed by the Solutions Exchange session in which attendees dug deeper to discuss specific topics such as educational awareness, recruitment, mentoring, networking, career management, and professional development with subject matter experts.
Added Llopis, “This forum was a breakthrough event that will cultivate a national conversation. Our goal is to encourage more Hispanics to enter the healthcare industry in order to alleviate the shortage and allow the industry to move in a direction where research, treatment, and prevention efforts begin to match the needs of this expanding community. However, our ultimate objective is to identify solutions, expand upon them, and encourage attendees to be accountable to build best practices around them.”