To confront racism in healthcare and improve health equity, it is essential to recruit Black and Hispanic/Latinx populations into health professions. Currently, Black and Hispanic/Latinx physicians constitute less than 6% of the physician workforce and just over 12% of registered nurses – a drastic underrepresentation that has roots in systemic economic and educational segregation and marginalization.
Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities living in under-resourced neighborhoods are also disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes. For example, Hispanic/Latinx youth in Chicago were hospitalized for asthma at more than twice the rate of Whites, while Black youth were hospitalized 4 times that rate. Similar disparities in Emergency Department visits and hospitalizations are seen across chronic health conditions, unintentional injuries and violence-related injuries, and behavioral health conditions.
Today, 1 in 3 of Lurie Children’s patients live in under-resourced Chicago neighborhoods, and more than half of our patients are insured by Medicaid. In addition, over a quarter 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.
What Lurie Children's is doing to address diversity in the healthcare workforce
As an institution that has a significant economic and human resource impact in Chicago, Lurie Children’s is committed to our “anchor mission” of leveraging our institutional assets more intentionally to address economic and racial inequities in the communities we serve. To ensure that we can deliver healthcare that meets social, cultural and linguistic needs, we strive to have a workforce that mirrors the diversity of our patients. This includes our commitment to increase hiring in under-resourced communities of color on the south and west sides of Chicago and provide career pathways and educational opportunities to entry-level staff. For more information about employment opportunities at Lurie Children’s, visit careers.luriechildrens.org.
In addition, we proactively reach out to young people in under-resourced communities to ensure that they have access to opportunities in healthcare careers through Lurie Children’s Mentorship & Workforce Development program, including our signature Discovering Healthcare Careers program. Developed in 2001 by Lurie Children’s, Discovering Healthcare Careers is a six-week summer internship program that provides an educational shadowing experience for Hispanic/Latinx and African American high school students. We work in partnership with Chicago Public Schools and Career Technical Education (CTE).
Other Workforce Development initiatives allow high school students to earn school credit while working at the hospital, address the need for Certified Nursing Assistants and Support Service Technicians, partner with the City of Chicago's "One Summer Chicago" youth employment program, enable hospital staff to attend school "Career Days" and provide six-week paid internships at the hospital for patients with chronic conditions through the EMPOWER program. For more information on our healthcare career programs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our impact on healthcare workforce diversity
The Mentorship & Workforce Development program includes 11+ internship and apprenticeship opportunities for middle school, high school and college students.
Annually, 500+ youth participate in Mentorship & Workforce Development programs and trainings.
140+ interns from the Mentorship & Workforce Development program have been hired by Lurie Children’s.
In 2019, nearly 20% of new hires at Lurie Children’s live in communities with low social, economic and educational opportunities.