Inspiring a Diverse Healthcare Workforce

Lurie Children's is working to expand and diversify the healthcare workforce.

Why This Needs Our Attention

Given the increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the U.S. population, the development and implementation of training programs for healthcare providers offers an effective strategy for addressing racial and ethnic health care disparities. As it stands, African-American and Hispanic physicians constitute less than 6% of the physician workforce and just over 12% of registered nurses represent racial and ethnic minorities; they are both underrepresented in the health professions and in those currently training to work in the health professions. Today, one-third of Lurie Children's patients live in under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods, and more than half of our patients are insured by Medicaid. In addition, more than one-fourth of our patients and their families primarily speak Spanish.

It is our inherent responsibility to those in our care to have a workforce that understands the cultural, social, and economic factors that influence their health, the ways in which they seek care, and their response to medical treatment, and to ensure that a future workforce exists to do the same. These efforts are also rooted in an understanding of the growing need for providers who can work in minority and medically underserved communities, thereby addressing a growing public health need.

What Lurie Children's Is Doing to Address It

To ensure that we can deliver health care that meets social, cultural and linguistic needs, we strive to have a workforce that mirrors the diversity of our patients. In addition, in order to improve health equity for children in Chicago, we proactively reach out to young people in under-resourced communities to ensure that they have access to opportunities in healthcare careers. We also work to ensure that our staff receive ongoing education and training in culturally and linguistically appropriate service delivery.
Specifically, our Workforce Development team provides internships and mentoring opportunities to students from under-resourced neighborhoods to introduce them to a range of healthcare career opportunities. To achieve this, the clinical and business units of Lurie Children's manage five customized internship programs for Chicago public high school students. Key partners in recruiting and training our interns include Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP), Becoming a Man (BAM), Career Technical Education (CTE), and Melissa Simon, MD, Northwestern Medicine.

In addition, Lurie Children's works closely with Malcolm X College, the city college dedicated to training healthcare professionals, to develop and refine health care curriculum and to host students for clinical rotations.

Lurie Children's also leads West Side United's Hiring and Career Development Subcommittee. Through this effort, we are partnering with five hospitals and several community organizations on the West Side of Chicago to recruit more employees from underserved neighborhoods.


Internships: Lurie Children's engages approximately 200 Chicago Public high school students in internships annually. To date, Lurie Children's has hired more than 65 former interns as full-time employees. Read more about our internship programs, including our SAILS program for past patients with chronic illness.

Career Days: We bring healthcare professionals to schools across Chicago. We partner in this work with Urban Initiatives for middle school students and Link Unlimited for high school students.

Clinical rotations: Malcolm X students participate in clinical rotations at Lurie Children's, including students engaged in programs for medical assistants, clinical nursing, radiology, sterile processing, surgical technology, community health workers, and paramedics.


Human Resources, Workforce Development


Maria Rivera