Doctors and nurses diversity in healthcare

How diversity in healthcare staff helps underserved communities

VWB Blog 1 year ago 4

Medical facilities need to understand the importance of diversity among their staff, particularly in underserved communities. It is essential that diversity increases within healthcare over the next decade as areas become more diverse and older adults need more advanced healthcare services.

How is diversity beneficial in healthcare?

Here are some of the ways that diversity is beneficial in the world of healthcare.

Increases comfort level and establishes trust

Plenty of people are distrustful of utilizing medical facilities. Having staff who a wide variety of people can relate to makes it far more likely that they will use your medical facility. Remember that a person’s first visit to a medical facility can make them decide whether to keep coming back or not. If you do not make a good impression that makes the patient and their family feel comfortable and cared for, then they are not as likely to trust your facility for future care.

Patients need to know that their needs are going to be met and not feel as though they will get pressured to do things they are not comfortable with. In many cases, they need medical providers who are willing to take extra time to address their needs and concerns.

Diversity can help improve overall performance

healthcare staff diversity in a hospital

When you draw from a more diverse and wider-reaching pool of applicants, you can pick and choose more top talent for a medical team.

Hiring management and leaders from diverse backgrounds can be a major help when managing an increasingly diverse facility.

Encourages underserved populations to utilize preventive care

One of the challenges that nurses and doctors face is getting patients to agree to preventive care visits and health screenings. Nearly all groups could do better when it comes down to preventive care visits, but the disparity is worse in underserved populations. These populations often wait until they absolutely must seek medical treatment.

Having someone on staff who a patient can relate to can make a big difference. A patient may be more likely to take the advice of someone they know who understands their culture and values. To the patient, preventive care may seem like something that just takes up their time or costs them money. They may need help understanding what types of preventive care and screenings are covered by their health plan.

Other barriers may make a patient hesitant to schedule medical care that seems unnecessary to them. Transportation to and from appointments is a good example. Childcare issues are another. Staff members can go the extra mile by giving patients referrals and information about resources to help them meet these challenges.

More diversity can reduce the rate of emergency and urgent care visits

As underserved populations are more likely to use medical care only when it is necessary, they tend to go to emergency rooms and urgent care centers. In many cases, they lack a primary care provider entirely. As a result, emergency rooms and urgent care centers in some areas may be overwhelmed with people seeking care that, while needed, is different from what urgent care centers and ER wards are intended for.

People utilizing urgent care and ER departments for everyday problems greatly increase their wait times. Medical staff are forced to assign priority to more severe health issues and injuries when people come to the emergency room seeking care. This means that someone could sit for many hours before getting care, whereas even if they went to a walk-in clinic, they would get care much faster.

Sometimes, it is as simple as educating underserved populations about what resources they have available to them. For example, if someone doesn’t speak English well, they may understand where the hospital is but not how to get help from a regular medical doctor or clinic. Having staff who are bilingual and making an effort to reach out to communities with literature in their language helps considerably.

Diversity in healthcare staff can decrease the incidence of medical mistakes and lead to more efficient care

Healthcare workers do their best to avoid medical mistakes, but if there are communication barriers, then mistakes are more likely to happen. Being able to understand each other is critical. This goes for communication between staff, patients and medical professionals. This is why it is good to have some bilingual staff members. For example, if a patient comes in and cannot communicate well, they may not be able to explain what medications they are taking or if they have any major allergies or reactions to certain foods or medications.

This can prevent nurses and doctors from using some treatments, thus making it harder to treat the problem that the patient is experiencing. If the situation is dire, they may have to do whatever they think is best without having any suitable information. Either way, it makes it harder for the patient to get the highest level of care regardless of the best intentions of the medical team serving them.

Having staff members who can communicate well with the most common ethnic groups in an area can help patients more accurately describe their symptoms. They may be less likely to be embarrassed or hold back information that may be helpful.

When underserved populations use medical services, the medical community can better learn how to meet their needs

Experience is the best way to find out the needs of underserved communities and populations. It can be hard to understand barriers to medical care and the significant needs of populations if you do not have good data to go on.

It is important to talk to people and use their medical records to understand trends better. This information is invaluable to medical teams and researchers because they can use it to improve treatments and inspire new research.

In many areas, many resources can be utilized to help underserved populations, but they are not always aware of them. Medical teams can be the bridge between patients and these resources. The medical community benefits by increasing the number of patients served, and the patients get the help they need to lead healthy and productive lives.

Healthcare leaders with good cultural competency and experience with diverse groups are in high demand

As there are more people from diverse backgrounds working in healthcare, there is a need for leaders who have insight into other cultures and a deep understanding of diverse groups. Good management fosters excellent communication among staff, medical personnel, and patients.

Leaders who understand the cultural differences among their staff and within the communities they service can help everyone meet on common ground, rather than highlighting differences all the time.

At the same time, the differences are important to acknowledge so that unnecessary conflict and misunderstanding can be avoided.

Different groups may also have customs that impact the type of healthcare practices they will consent to. It is critical that medical staff are aware of these beliefs and trained in how to offer medical care and support in these cases.

Hospitals are trying to increase the diversity of their staff

Some medical systems have set goals to increase diversity. Recruiting nurses and other medical professionals from diverse backgrounds can be difficult to recruit to particular regions or areas. This is especially true in professions such as nursing, where many ethnic groups are underrepresented. This is likely to change as more people gain training and advanced degrees.

Overall, there is a major shortage of medical workers that is expected to continue for decades. With a large aging population and more people having access to medical insurance, there is a lot of room for opportunities within medicine.

Healthcare leaders need to conduct outreach in their communities to increase access to care

Non-profit groups, social workers, community centers, government agencies and more are all resources that healthcare leaders should form collaborative relationships with in order to increase patient access to care. By working with these organizations, healthcare leaders can delegate the task of educating the community about the value of healthcare. This could include helping people sign up for healthcare plans and services, finding primary care providers, and getting them assistance with traveling to and from important appointments.

Patient and family surveys can help medical facilities better understand patient needs and feelings

More medical practices are utilizing surveys delivered via text message or email right after a patient visits their practice. This allows medical practices to get an idea about patient satisfaction and what may be lacking while the experience is fresh in the mind of the patient.

A feedback form or survey on the practice’s website can also be helpful and provide families with a means to offer suggestions and feedback. Questions can be customized as the practice evolves.

What can medical facilities do to increase diversity?

Increase outreach when recruiting

Thanks to online job boards and various professional organizations, it is possible for hospitals, private practices, and care centers to advertise available positions more widely than ever before. Reaching out via extensive advertising can help to attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

Offer incentives for top candidates to apply

There is a lot of competition in recruiting talented healthcare workers. Medical practices that offer lucrative incentives are at an advantage. For example, offering a sign-on bonus after someone completes six months of employment or a 90-day probationary period can make you stand out from others. Help with relocation or moving expenses is yet another perk that can attract more applicants throughout the country.

Mentioning potential advancement opportunities at a facility is invaluable when attempting to recruit long-term employees. Someone who has just graduated from nursing school and received their registered nurse (RN) license may want to find a position that offers a lot of advancement opportunities, so a major hospital with lots of room for advancement over the next few decades might be just what they are looking for.

Work with universities and colleges that offer healthcare training and degree programs

Medical practices and care centers can work with higher education institutions to encourage people from diverse backgrounds to earn a degree or certificate in the medical field. This means offering internships and clinical placement for those who need the hours to be eligible to take the exam for an RN license, for example. If the student has a good experience working at a facility, they may be a perfect candidate to hire after they obtain the necessary licenses and certifications.

Diversity in healthcare workforce professionals will only happen if effort is made to increase access to educational programs. Online degree programs, such as the course offered by Texas Woman’s University, are an excellent way for people to train for a career in healthcare regardless of their background. Some advanced degree programs can be completed quickly if you have prior higher education or training.

Attend job and recruiting fairs

We live in a world where a great deal can be done online, but it is still worthwhile networking and meeting potential job candidates face-to-face. While it does take time and money to attend job fairs and industry-related conferences, it is well worth the effort. These events are great opportunities to answer questions from job seekers and form a connection that could lead to a great working relationship.

Job fairs, conferences and recruiting events also offer the ability to reach out to candidates from different areas. Even traveling a few hours away can help with recruitment.

Recruit healthcare workers of all genders and many ethnic backgrounds

There was a time when the term ‘male nurse’ was not one that people were familiar with. The same was true for female medical doctors. Of course, these terms applied even less to ethnic minorities. Now, there are more medical professionals of all genders and ethnic backgrounds, but we still have a long way to go to make sure that they are present at a lot of providers. Recruiting efforts need to reflect this reality.

Some larger medical facilities, such as hospitals, may work with contractors to provide some staffing needs. For example, if there is a staffing shortage, hospitals may rely on traveling nurses or doctors to fill in temporarily while they find qualified staff to permanently fill positions.

Be diverse in collaborative medical efforts

In addition to having diverse staff, make sure that you are collaborating and referring patients to specialists and other medical professionals that embrace diversity. If you feel that a patient from a diverse background would be most comfortable with a particular specialist, then do what it takes to refer them to that specialist.

Offer good employee support, training and mentoring

While the need for medical workers is strong, facilities should not make the mistake of hiring an employee and then expecting them to learn everything as they go. Medical practices need to take the time to orient new employees to their facility and give them the tools they need to succeed. A reasonable training period and support resources, such as a mentor, will increase the odds that the employee will have high enthusiasm and morale for their new position.

As so many medical and care facilities are in need of staff, it is important to do whatever you can to retain employees once they are hired. If you do not offer a good experience, then someone else will.

Good training and mentoring also decrease the chances of costly or harmful mistakes at your practice. Even the most well-trained worker is prone to mistakes if they are not offered the training and knowledge to perform their job well.


Diversity among healthcare workers and providers is important to ensure that patients from a wide variety of backgrounds feel comfortable and trust their providers to offer them the highest level of care. More diversity also allows other medical workers to learn from those from different cultural backgrounds. Increasing cultural awareness and understanding helps nurses and other medical providers perform their job better and more efficiently.

Diversity helps medical facilities offer more care to those in their communities by encouraging preventive care visits and increasing awareness of what medical services are available to them.

Colleges and universities must ensure that people from all backgrounds know what types of degrees and training are available to them. Providing assistance for students to find financial resources to help pay for higher education and showing them that there are online degree options can be major motivating factors.

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