Why the Health Care Field Needs More Diversity

why health care field needs more diversity

Those considering pursuing a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in health sciences have an opportunity to help healthcare address one of its largest challenges: diversity.

Yes, health care has a diversity problem. As the general population grows significantly more diverse, the health care field is not adequately reflecting the demographics of a changing America.

How bad is it? Consider these sobering statistics for specific careers within health care, according to zippia.com and the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • While the U.S. population is almost 19 percent Hispanic or Latino, individuals from these backgrounds represent less than 10 percent of physician assistants.
  • Almost 74 percent of physical therapists are white. The second most-represented groups, Asians, account for less than 14 percent of physical therapists.
  • The overwhelming majority of occupational therapists are women; just 19 percent are men.
  • While African Americans make up 12 percent of the U.S. population, their representation among speech-language pathologists stands at just over four percent. 

Why Health Care Needs Diversity

As the statistics underscore the lack of diversity in health care, the bigger question might be why does it matter? 

There are multiple reasons. Patients often feel more comfortable talking openly about their health to someone they identify with. Additionally, when health care professionals can bring to their jobs their own backgrounds, cultures or perspectives they may be better at asking questions and identifying or addressing potential issues, such as language barriers or cultural norms or customs that may impact provider interactions with patients.

Also, it is important to keep in mind that health care is team-based, and research has confirmed that diverse teams make better decisions. Simply put, when the diversity of health care professionals mirrors the populations they serve, the quality of patient care improves.

How Health Care Can Become More Diverse

So, how can the lack of diversity in healthcare be addressed? Fortunately, many health care organizations have begun taking steps to introduce diversity training and to adopt diversity and inclusion recruiting initiatives. 

Ultimately, however, the best long-term solution is greater diversity among those entering health care. Students from underrepresented groups are encouraged to explore a career in this fast-growing field where they will be able to make a difference in the lives of others.

Become part of the solution for greater diversity in health care by pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in health sciences at Carlow University. With available majors in Pre-Physician Assistant, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Occupational Therapy and Pre-Speech-Language Pathology, you will learn the skills to provide exceptional patient care and open the door to pursuing a wide range of rewarding health care careers.