Dissertation Abstract

The Scarcity of African Americans in Allied Health Professions: An Analysis of Key Factors

Publication Number:  AAT3035633
Author:  Reid, M. La Verne
School:  Brandeis U., The F. Heller Grad. Sch. for Adv. Stud. in Soc. Wel.
Date:  1999
Pages:  116
Subject:  Economics, Labor (0510); Black Studies (0325); Health Sciences, Health Care Management (0769); Health Sciences, Education (0350)

Prevailing trends indicate the percentage of African Americans in the population will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. These changes have implications for the workforce and the health care system. The health status of African Americans continues to lag behind the general population, and research emphasizes the importance of minority health care workers to the health of that population. Therefore, in the United States it is important to evaluate programs with regard to the promotion of greater numbers of minority health workers. Analyses of ways to attack and nurture minority persons in the health professions are needed. This study concentrates on African Americans working as physician assistants, occupational therapists, and radiologic technologists. It has two components: a historical case study analysis and a qualitative structured interview component. Retrospective demographic data were collected via survey for three cohorts of allied health students at 117 professional training institutions. An analysis of how many students across programs were admitted, enrolled, graduated, and licensed was conducted. Structured interviews were conducted with 17 African American allied health practitioners to gain knowledge of their personal experiences as health professionals. The study revealed that if policies established to enhance minority representation in health professions are to be successful, much still needs to be done. Success rates with regard to African American health professionals are low at each stage of the educational process. Barriers to the successful recruitment, training and retention of African American health care workers included lack of financial aid; a sense of isolation, particularly in predominantly white institutions; lack of supportive peers and clinical personnel, inadequate counseling; and absence of respect among other health care professionals.

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