Understanding the Problems
Everyone deserves access to quality health care. New York State suffers from a shortage of health care workers (doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, medical technologists, pharmacists and other professionals) especially in inner city neighborhoods and rural communities.
- More than 4 million people live in places where primary care is in short supply, in what are called Health Professions Shortage Areas or HPSAs, a figure that exceeds the populations of 26 states.
- Over 2 million people live in Dental HPSAs.
- Over 2 million people live in mental health HPSAs.
Diversity is also an issue. The people who provide care don’t look like the people they treat. The chart here reveals the discrepancy between the size of the state’s under-represented minority population and the vastly smaller numbers working in health care in the United States.
Why Workforce Diversity Matters
Quality health care is not about just biology; it is about treating the whole person. Diversity isn’t about just percentages; it is about relating to individuals. The relationship between a health care professional and a patient is influenced by everything from their language and ethnicity to their income and education levels, from their habits and beliefs, to the place where they grew up. The better a provider understands a patient’s culture, the better they will communicate. The more they trust each other, the better the care and the outcomes will be.
Source: Missing Person: Minorities in the Health Professions, report of the Sullivan Commission on Diversity in the Health Care Workforce, and In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Health Care Workforce, report of the Institute of Medicine in the National Academies.