University of Florida’s Health Science Center Works To Improve Number of Minority Students, Faculty Members
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday examined efforts by the University of Florida's Health Science Center to increase the number of minority students and doctors in the area. While there are more black and Hispanic students entering the medical field and health care is generally more diverse than other fields, only 6% of physicians in the U.S. are American Indian, black or Hispanic, according to a report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. Those groups make up 26% of the U.S. population, the report said.
According to the Sun-Sentinel, the number of minority students in the university's College of Nursing is above the national average, though the school has a shortage of minority professors. The Nursing and Dentistry colleges have one black professor each, while 15 out of the 973 faculty members in the College of Medicine are black and 44 are Hispanic. The number of minority students entering the academic field is small, and retention of minority faculty is an issue for the university. The Health Science Center last year created a new office aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented minority faculty members.
Rebecca Rainer Pauly, associate vice president for diversity and equity in the Health Science Center, also has established an advisory board of university and community leaders who try to address issues related to diversity. The center in November had a "Diversity Dialogue" to help bring more attention to the issue of diversity. In addition, Pauly has started a program to encourage middle school students to enter the science field. The university's College of Medicine Office of Minority Affairs also brings in high school students to expose them to medicine, research and other health professions.
Pauly said, "We want students to be able to look up to faculty with whom they can identify. Also, all faculty should have equal opportunity, and with cultural competence and consciousness, better outcomes are seen in health care. Patients are more compliant. There's better preventive medicine" (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 1/1).