All healthcare fields are working to improve the diversity in their professions. The goal is to have a healthcare workforce that is representative of our population. A diverse workforce is more responsive to cultural differences among patients and practitioners. Many patients also prefer seeing providers who come from similar backgrounds. African Americans, Latino/a, and Native Americans are especially needed in medicine – though they make up 25% of the overall population, they make up only 12% of the workforce.
Efforts to improve diversity range from providing schoolchildren with special lessons to summer enrichment and research opportunities for underrepresented students. This work is often referred to as improving the medical pipeline because it helps channel more students into healthcare fields.