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Our commitment to diversity goes beyond whom we recruit and enroll, however. Drawing upon our racial and cultural differences is crucial to executing our mission to improve health.
We all know that social and cultural factors play a major role in health and illness. At Johns Hopkins, we drill this into trainees with the Genes to Society curriculum. It is important to develop cultural competencies in care providers to help them respect patients’ values and habits, and to bridge gaps in understanding their concerns.
While racial and ethnic minorities make up 26 percent of the total U.S. population, only about 6 percent of practicing physicians and 9 percent of nurses are Latino, African-American or Native American.
In Baltimore, where 65 percent of the population is African-American and where the Latino population has increased by nearly 50 percent in the last six years, there is a similar disconnect between providers and patients.
We are in the process of building a diverse workforce capable of relating to our patients and speaking their language, both literally and figuratively. This is not just about fairness—diversity in medicine has measurable benefits.
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