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Stepping Up Health Care

Photo by Robert Steckmest, Strategic Marketing and Communications
Photo by Robert Steckmest, Strategic Marketing and Communications

Efforts underway to raise funds for Hospital Hill Diversity Council Scholarship

The Hospital Hill Diversity Council is raising money to start a new endowed scholarship for University of Missouri-Kansas City health professions students.

The mission of the Hospital Hill Diversity Council is to foster an academic health center community that celebrates diversity; value and respect differences; actively engage in issues of diversity; and develop competences needed to work with diverse populations.

The council includes representatives from Children’s Mercy, Saint Luke’s Health System and Truman Medical Centers along with each school on the UMKC Hospital Hill Campus: School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, School of Nursing and Health Studies and School of Pharmacy. Council members say the need for additional scholarship funds for historically underrepresented health professions students — African American, Hispanic and American Indian — keeps increasing.

“The ongoing uncertain economy, rising tuition costs and the shortage of healthcare providers have created a critical demand,” said Eve McGee, director of diversity and inclusion at the School of Nursing and Health Studies. “Educating a diverse workforce is linked to the ability to provide quality patient care.”

The first fundraising event was held in September. The Hospital Hill Diversity Council sponsored the Health Sciences Scholarship Dinner and Dance at UMKC’s Pierson Auditorium. The dance featured music played by popular Kansas City DJ Myron D, a mix of R&B hits, salsa and world music.

“Generous sponsors funded tables so that students could participate in the dinner and dance,” said Susan B. Wilson, associate dean of cultural enhancement and diversity at the School of Medicine. “We hope the event becomes an annual tradition that brings a variety of communities together for a good cause: raising scholarship money that will help diversify the workforce.”

The minority health workforce and incoming health profession students aren’t keeping up with the U.S. population. In 2011, minorities made up 37 percent of the population but:

Diversity in the student population isn’t just an effort to meet job demand. It could also be a factor in improving patient outcomes. A study underway that involves all four UMKC health professions schools will measure how much persistent health disparities can be reduced by greater diversity in the health care workforce. UMKC was one of only five universities to receive the National Institutes of Health grant.

Collectively at UMKC, the four schools graduate about 500 health professionals each year. In 2011, at least 20 percent of those graduates were from underrepresented populations. The schools employ a holistic admissions review process that is race-neutral, and will continue to do so during the study funded by the grant.

Money raised for the scholarships could be available as early as January and will be divided equally among the four schools. Representatives of the Hospital Hill Diversity Council are Gaby Flores, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Director, Office of Equity and Diversity; Michael L. Weaver, St. Luke’s Health System; Derek Williams, associate professor, and John Cottrell, clinical instructor and director of minority and special programs, both at the School of Dentistry; and Tracy Parker-Gray, manager of diversity and outreach initiatives at the School of Pharmacy, in addition to McGee and Wilson.

To donate to the scholarship and for more information, contact Susan B. Wilson at wilsonsb2@umkc.edu.


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