Web-Based Toolkit Helps Universities Advance Community Health Equity

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More than 60 million Americans live in areas without enough health care providers to meet demand – primarily in minority and low-income communities, where residents are less likely to be insured and suffer disproportionately from chronic disease. The lack of access to care and resulting health disparities have had a devastating impact on our communities, and have cost our nation billions in unnecessary spending and lost productivity.

Universities are uniquely positioned to help address health inequities and can play a large role in their community by educating a diverse and culturally competent health and scientific workforce to meet local needs. However, university leaders may not know all the options available by which they can influence the workforce, or which strategies to implement. Urban Universities for HEALTH (Health Equity through Alignment, Leadership, and Transformation of the Health workforce) has developed an interactive, web-based toolkit to help university leaders measure efforts to build a diverse, culturally competent health and scientific workforce.

In creating the toolkit, Urban Universities for HEALTH looked to partner with universities that were implementing best practices and strategies. The lessons learned from these case studies are laid out in full in the toolkit.

For example, the University of Cincinnati’s Academic Health Center found a significant gap in enrollment of black students in its health professions programs compared to the local population in Hamilton County, OH. To address this, they created a comprehensive community profile for their county to identify barriers to education attainment and opportunities for addressing these gaps. Based on the report’s findings, the team used social media to target potential students and connect them with information about navigating higher education and pursuing careers in health professions.

At the University of New Mexico, there was a lack of access to reliable health workforce data. They wanted to know where their health professions graduates worked, and who they served so that they could evaluate the need and adjust their programs in response. The data was not readily available for them, so they collaborated with the state legislature to mandate that licensing agencies could collect the appropriate data. This new data showed a shortage of nurse practitioners in the area, so the university was then funded to increase education and training in that sector.

The toolkit will provide university leaders with evidence-based workforce strategies, indicators and measures, which have been research tested and vetted. These resources can be customized to fit each institution’s unique mission and local needs. Ultimately, the toolkit will help universities embrace their role as thought leaders and influencers and direct their policies and programs towards preparing health professionals who, have a positive impact on community health.

The toolkit will be unveiled at an upcoming web launch on Monday, June 26. University leaders, health professions deans, diversity professionals, public health experts, foundation representatives, and all other interested stakeholders are invited to attend this special event.

Speakers will include:

This event is free and open to the public. Register today!