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Single Article A Call to Action: Increasing Health Providers in Underrepresented Populations through the Military

JHHSA, Vol. 35 No. 3, (2012)

The state of the nation’s health and healthcare disparities looms large and is currently at crisis proportions, so much so, that these issues have been advanced as a national priority. These disparities are known to disproportionately afflict minorities and disadvantaged groups who become predisposed to certain risks. However, in light of the ever increasing racial and ethnic diversity of the American population, the visible absence of underrepresented minorities (URMs) in the health professions needed to meet these growing needs continues to fuel these crises.
The purpose of this paper is thus fourfold. First, to examine the reason (s) for the persistent shortage of underrepresented minorities in the health professions and the associated barriers they encounter in pursuing opportunities in these professions. Second, to determine the degree to which the shortage of URMs contributes to the current state of health and healthcare disparities among certain groups. Third, to identify nontraditional mechanisms like the military as a medium to help increase the number of URMs in the health professions pipeline. Finally, the authors discuss the role of cultural competence as an
essential skill set in rendering quality healthcare to minority patients; the strengths and limitations of their findings; and the implications of these findings for future research.

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