News brief

IOM recommends more diverse health work force

A recent report from an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel recommends strategies for achieving greater diversity among health professionals, a goal that would lead to improved access to care for racial and ethnic minority patients. The report says health profession educational institutions should improve their admissions policies and practices to better recognize the value of diversity and culturally competent care, improve the institutional climate for diversity, and affiliate with community-based health care providers to attract and train a more diverse and culturally competent work force.

It also recommends academic accreditation bodies enforce diversity-related standards and include underrepresented minorities and other experts in cultural competence and diversity, and says Congress, state and local entities should increase funding and support for programs effective at enhancing diversity.

At an IOM briefing on the report, Lonnie Bristow, MD, former president of the American Medical Association, pointed out that the "educational pipeline ruptures long before minority students have an opportunity to access higher education, let alone training in a health field."

Ray Grady, chairman of the Institute for Diversity in Health Management, said the report "focuses on issues that are essential to ensuring a diverse health care work force" and that "tapping into this diversity can only enhance the high quality of care that our hospitals and health care workers provide to patients every day."

The IOM report can be found at: www.nationalacademies.org/morenews/.