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Training a Diverse Workforce

Why this needs our attention

The development and implementation of recruitment and training programs for healthcare providers targeting racial and ethnic minorities is an effective strategy for addressing racism in healthcare and disparities in health outcomes. African-American and Hispanic/Latinx 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.

Disparities exist in health outcomes as well. Hispanic/Latinx youth in Chicago were hospitalized for asthma at more than twice the rate of whites, while black/African American youth were hospitalized 4 times as much. These disparities in ED visits and hospitalizations are seen across chronic health conditions, unintentional injuries and violence-related injuries, and behavioral health conditions. 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

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 Workforce Education and Community Engagement internship and mentoring programs, 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, Career Technical Education (CTE) and GEAR UP Alliance.

Other Workforce Education 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 workforceeducation@luriechildrens.org.

Our impact

  • Over 180 students participate in internships and mentorship programs annually
  • More than 70 former interns have been hired by Lurie Children’s
  • Nearly 20% of new hires in 2019 live in communities with low social, economic and educational opportunities
  • In 2020, Workforce Education launched a virtual internship experience and provided 100 Chicago Public School students with exposure to various healthcare careers