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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in health care occupations is projected to grow 15% through 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations1. Health care services continue to be in great demand, particularly among our aging population. Additionally, working in the health care industry can offer a successful career track to many, and can provide an avenue to supporting greater economic stability and the accumulation of wealth – two reasons why generations of Americans, particularly those within communities of color, have difficulty escaping poverty.
As the racial and ethnic makeup of the U.S. population continues to shift, it is critical that health care adapts. By fielding a culturally competent, diverse, and prepared health care workforce, vulnerable and historically underserved communities will have an increased probability of achieving better health outcomes on the path to true health equity.
The Cigna Foundation will support the educational and employment path of individuals who are considering health-related jobs through programs that prepare adults to help advance public health and improve health outcomes for society overall.
This support also includes increasing the number of practitioners who identify with groups that have been underrepresented and underserved. It also provides learning opportunities for all practitioners on how to better understand, identify, and address health disparities among diverse groups within the changing U.S. population.
The Cigna Foundation seeks to fund resiliency programs that:
- Provide support services for individuals accepted for enrollment with plans to pursue a career in health care or earn an advanced degree that requires additional knowledge and skill (i.e., medical doctor, researcher, hospital administrator, nurse, health educator, community health worker, medical assistant, etc.) to:
- Foster educational persistence through certificate completion/degree attainment
- Increase transfer from a two year to a four year institution for eligible students
- Create a climate that supports the success of low-income students, first-generation students, and individuals with disabilities
- Offer tutoring and coaching programs to decrease falling behind and/or dropping out of classes
- Increase cultural competency through:
- Awareness building programs and tools to aid clinicians serving vulnerable populations
- Expansion and diversification of the health care workforce to increase access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care
- Training that enhances self-awareness of attitudes toward people of different racial and ethnic groups
- Increasing knowledge about different populations served, including cultural beliefs and practices, attitudes toward health care, how people seek health care, and burdens of various diseases
- Improving skills to work with diverse communities
- Create a culturally competent environment that considers:
- Linguistically and culturally appropriate health education materials
- Interpreter services or bilingual providers
- Recruitment and retention of staff who reflect the community’s cultural diversity
- Culturally specific health care settings located within the community being served