Why Urban Universities for HEALTH?


Not all Americans have the same opportunities to live in good health.  Evidence shows that individuals identifying as minorities suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases and live shorter, unhealthier lives. They are more likely to be uninsured and live in areas where health care services are limited. These inequities are likely to worsen as the nation’s population becomes increasingly diverse, especially in cities where more than 80 percent of Americans live. Underserved neighborhoods in these urban centers are facing an extraordinary shortage of well-trained health care professionals. These health disparities are tragic – but they are also fixable.

In order to meet the growing demand for care from a diverse population, we must not only increase the number of health professionals, but also produce workers who will provide care where it is needed the most.  It is critical to develop a workforce that reflects the population and is competent to provide care to patients from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds. Urban universities are well-positioned to step in and train the next wave of doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and other health care professionals who hail from these urban communities and are motivated to provide care in underserved areas.

Until now, university efforts to improve the health workforce have been largely uncoordinated and have suffered from a lack of quality data and evidence. University leaders need the opportunity to learn from each other and implement solutions that have been tested. In order to facilitate and accelerate this process, Urban Universities for HEALTH was created as a national "learning collaborative" to develop, test, and share cutting-edge solutions to health workforce challenges in urban communities. From 2012-2017, our five university demonstration sites have captured local data, evaluated strategies, and driven workforce improvements in common areas. 

Urban Universities for HEALTH is interdisciplinary, and has engaged leaders across the university.  Unlike prior workforce initiatives that have been isolated within each of the health professions, Urban Universities for HEALTH engages leaders and practitioners from nursing, medicine, dentistry, public health and the allied health professions.  Although the work of the five demonstration sites has concluded, Urban Universities for HEALTH will seek to sustain its efforts with a broader network of urban higher education institutions across the country. Few prior efforts have been as visionary or as far-reaching.

Read more about the Learning Collaborative...