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Student-Led Organizations Advocating for Inclusivity in Healthcare and Healthcare Professions

Authors:
Student-Led Organizations
Advocating for Inclusivity in
Healthcare and Healthcare
Professions
Lauren Youngblood*, Cherokee Kim, Katie Qiu and Monifa Williams
Highlights from the Joining Hands in Healthcare Club, High Point University, High Point, NC, United States
Keywords: diversity, equity, inclusion, student, minority, mentor, healthcare, community
INTRODUCTION
Joining Hands in Healthcare club was founded at High Point University (HPU) in 2020. Membership
to the club is open to all students pursuing health care professions across the undergraduate,
graduate, and post-graduate programs at HPU. Currently, membership is made up of undergraduate
students in the Exercise Science program, as well as Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, Physician
Assistant, and Athletic Training graduate students. To date, there are thirty-nine active
members of the club. According to research conducted by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, and
National Center for Health Workforce Analysis in relation to the profession of Physical Therapy...
22.2% are split between Black, Asian, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hawaiian and
other Pacic Islanders, and other races. (HRSA Health Workforce, 2017) The mission of Joining
Hands in Healthcare club is to provide a sense of community and support in order to improve the
wellbeing, mental health, grades, and prosperity of racial and ethnic minority students pursuing
healthcare professions at High Point University.
BRIDGING THE GAP/CURRENT INITIATIVES
This club has been a platform in which the student ofcers have been able to bridge the gap between
undergraduate and graduate students pursuing healthcare professions. The club has organized
several events in order to promote conversations between members as well as post-graduate
professionals. Various health care workers, all identifying as minorities, were asked to speak on
virtual panels pertaining to different topics. These topics included Changes in clinical practice since
the COVID-19 pandemic and how students can adapt’’ as well as Transitioning from student to
healthcare professional and overcoming imposter syndrome.Between the two events, a total of fty-
ve people attended. Through these panels, students were able to gather virtually which helped to
stimulate discussions amongst one another. Both the panelists and students offered unique
perspectives on methods to navigate the topic at hand, as well as techniques on coping with
current social dilemmas. Holding these virtual events throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic
has provided a sense of community for members, evidenced by comments of appreciation made
during the panel and feedback from those who attended. These environments allowed students to feel
comfortable and safe in sharing their difculties and resolutions knowing others have experienced
similar situations.
Currently, club ofcers are working closely with faculty members to highlight the signicance of
recognizing implicit biases and discrimination, as it not only can have detrimental impacts on the
Edited by:
Candice M. Etson,
Wesleyan University, United States
Reviewed by:
David Wilson,
Cardiff University, United Kingdom
*Correspondence:
Lauren Youngblood
lyoungbl@highpoint.edu
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
STEM Education,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Education
Received: 08 August 2021
Accepted: 21 October 2021
Published: 02 December 2021
Citation:
Youngblood L, Kim C, Qiu K and
Williams M (2021) Student-Led
Organizations Advocating for
Inclusivity in Healthcare and
Healthcare Professions.
Front. Educ. 6:755176.
doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.755176
Frontiers in Education | www.frontiersin.org December 2021 | Volume 6 | Article 7551761
OPINION
published: 02 December 2021
doi: 10.3389/feduc.2021.755176
success, mental health, and general well-being of minority
students, but also can impact minority patient care. In order
to collaborate with faculty to highlight the importance of the
effects of implicit biases and discrimination within an
institutional setting, the club is looking to host a student-led
panel with faculty members in attendance. The student panel and
attendees will address and discuss their personal experiences with
microaggressions in professional and academic settings in order
to raise awareness of this common experience within minority
populations. Other notable initiatives will include community
outreach events that look to serve and educate marginalized
groups within the immediate area surrounding High Point
University. Through this outlet, it is our mission for students
to nd better success and condence in becoming a minority
professional.
DISCUSSION
In addition to the local success of health professional students,
Joining Hands in Healthcares ongoing goal is to advocate for
minority communities. The Health Professionals for Diversity
Coalition asserts that we can effectively improve the health
outcomes of racial and ethnic minorities by increasing the
diversity of the healthcare workforce. (Health Professionals for
Diversity Coalition, n.d)They further explain that minority
health care workers that identify as Asian American, Hispanic,
and Native American often are more likely to practice within
marginalized and underserved communities. By improving the
diversity within the healthcare workforce, we can better address
health disparities experienced by racial minorities. It is interesting
how the current trend within the U.S. population is becoming
more diverse, and yet the healthcare workforce does not reect
this trend. For example, research conducted by the U.S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources
and Services Administration, and National Center for Health
Workforce Analysis workforce analysis shows that 77.8% of
Physical Therapists are white. (HRSA Health Workforce,
2017) The lack of diversity among healthcare workers may
pose difculties for minorities seeking resolution to health
issues as minority individuals often seek out healthcare
professionals that are similar to their own identity. The
importance of the framework of the Joining Hands in
Healthcare club is imperative not only to the success of
students, but to the longevity of minority individuals.
When investigating the reasons as to why the healthcare
workforce lacks diversity, one of the key reasons according to
research by Toretsky, Mutha, and Coffman at the Health force
Center at UCSF was the lack of racially/ethnically concordant
mentorswith a students identity. (Toretsky et al., 2018)Asa
result, students who identify as a minority often have difculties
balancing academics and being advocates for their communities.
As a club, Joining Hands in Healthcare has provided a support
system and mentorship opportunities. Members aid and provide
advice to one another on how to cope with the unique societal
struggles that accompany being a minority while also being a
student. This mentorship system within the club has been a pillar
of student success in educational and personal aspects of
members lives. Future implications of Joining Hands in
Health Care could serve as a channel for the APTA PT Moves
Me Ambassador Program. The PT Moves Me Ambassador
Program is aiming to Raise awareness of the profession of
physical therapy. Recruit the next generation of physical
therapists and physical therapist assistants. Increase diversity
within the applicant pool, and ultimately the profession.
(American Physical Therapy Association, n.d.) The goal of
Joining Hands in Health Care is largely aligned with such a
program (American Physical Therapy Association, n.d.).
CONCLUSION
As evidence highlights, healthcare professionals of color are
underrepresented in the workforce for various reasons. To aid
in improving the longevity of minority individuals and provide a
space where racial and ethnic minority students feel welcomed
and able to succeed, clubs such as Joining Hands in Healthcare are
necessary to provide support and mentorship. The emergence
of these programs may lead to improvements in diversity
within the healthcare workforce, prosperity and wellbeing of
minority students, and healthcare outcomes for minority
communities. We will aim to provide community outreach,
leadership, networking opportunities, and mentorship to
break the barriers limiting prevalence of underrepresented
minorities in healthcare. Our hope is to encourage other
universities and healthcare programs to begin initiatives
similar to that of Joining Hands in Healthcare in order to
support students of color and promote diversity, equity, and
inclusion.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
LY and CK contributed to the organization, construction, and
development of the rst draft of the manuscript. KQ and MW
wrote sections of the manuscript and contributed to revision and
editing of the manuscript. All authors contributed to manuscript
revision, read, and approved the submitted version.
REFERENCES
American Physical Therapy Association (n.d.). Pt Moves Me Student
Recruitment Campaign. Alexandria, Egypt: APTA. Retrieved from: https://
www.apta.org/your-career/careers-in-physical-therapy/pt-moves-me (Accessed
August 5, 2021).
Health Professionalsfor Diversity Coalition (n.d.). Fact Sheet: The Need for Diversity
in the Health Care Workforce. Retrieved from: https://www.aapcho.org/wp/wp-
content/uploads/2012/11/NeedForDiversityHealthCar eWorkforce.pdf (Accessed
July 23, 2021).
HRSA Health Workforce (2017). Sex, Race, and Ethnic Diversity of U.S. Health
Occupations (2011-2015). Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, & Bureau of Health
Frontiers in Education | www.frontiersin.org December 2021 | Volume 6 | Article 7551762
Youngblood et al. Student Organizations Advocating Healthcare Inclusivity
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Toretsky,C.,Mutha,S.,andCoffman,J.(2018).BreakingBarriersfor
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Conict of Interest: The authors declare that the research was conducted in the
absence of any commercial or nancial relationships that could be construed as a
potential conict of interest.
Publishers Note: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors
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Copyright © 2021 Youngblood, Kim, Qiu and Williams. This is an open-access article
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Frontiers in Education | www.frontiersin.org December 2021 | Volume 6 | Article 7551763
Youngblood et al. Student Organizations Advocating Healthcare Inclusivity
Article
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Professional STEM societies have been identified as an important lever to address STEM diversity, equity, and inclusion. In this Perspectives article, we chronicle the highlights of the first Amplifying the Alliance to Catalyze Change for Equity in STEM Success (ACCESS+) convening held in September 2021. Here, we introduce the three-part ACCESS+ approach using a model that entails (i) completion of a DEI self-assessment known as the equity environmental scanning tool, (ii) guided action plan development and iteration, and (iii) sustained participation in a community of practice.
Breaking Barriers for Underrepresented Minorities in the Health Professions Retrieved from: <https://healthforce.ucsf.edu/sites/healthforce.ucsf.edu/files/publication-pdf/Breaking%> 20Barriers%20for%20Underrepresented%20Minorities%20in%20the%20Health%20Prof essions%20.pdf (Accessed August 1, 2021)
  • C. Toretsky
  • S. Mutha
  • J. Coffman
Toretsky, C., Mutha, S., and Coffman, J. (2018). Breaking Barriers for Underrepresented Minorities in the Health Professions. Retrieved from: https://healthforce.ucsf.edu/sites/healthforce.ucsf.edu/files/publication-pdf/ Breaking% 20Barriers%20for%20Underrepresented%20Minorities%20in% 20the%20Health%20Prof essions%20.pdf (Accessed August 1, 2021).
Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, & Bureau of Health Frontiers in Education | www
  • Hrsa Health Workforce
HRSA Health Workforce (2017). Sex, Race, and Ethnic Diversity of U.S. Health Occupations (2011-2015). Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, & Bureau of Health Frontiers in Education | www.frontiersin.org December 2021 | Volume 6 | Article 755176