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George Washington University Launches First-Of-A-Kind Tool Providing Health Workforce Racial and Ethnic Diversity Data for 10 Professions

Doctor looking at x-ray
November 10, 2021

Media Contact:
Kathy Fackelmann, [email protected]

WASHINGTON (Nov. 10, 2021) - The Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity at the George Washington University announced the launch today of the Health Workforce Diversity Tracker, an interactive online tool that provides extensive data on the diversity of recent graduates and the existing workforce across ten critical health professions.

“For the first time, researchers, schools, policy makers, reporters and advocates will be able to easily access data on whether the health workforce nationally, in a state, profession, or graduating from a specific education program reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of the nation or their state.” Edward Salsberg, lead research scientist and co-director of the Health Workforce Diversity Initiative at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health’s Mullan Institute, said. “Overall, the data in this tool documents the limited diversity of the health workforce compared to the diversity of the nation’s population.”

The online tool tracks recent graduates and the existing workforce across the following critical professions: advanced practice registered nurses, dentists, occupational therapists, pharmacists, physical therapists, physicians, physician assistants, respiratory therapists, registered nurses and speech pathologists.

“The ability to easily see the diversity of graduates of an individual health professions education program and compare it to other programs in the profession is a very powerful tool for those concerned with the need for a workforce that better reflects the diversity of our nation and communities” Toyese Oyeyemi, the co-director of the GW Diversity Initiative and director of the Beyond Flexner Alliance, said.

This tool is the first of its kind to track disparities in the health workforce for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The tool compares the representation of Black, Hispanic, and white workers and new graduates in health professions compared to their representation in the population and presents a Diversity Index to allow for comparisons across race and ethnicity groups and across states. Initial findings from the tracker show:

  • Hispanic workers make up less than half of what would be expected based on their population in nine out of 10 of the health professions studied.
  • Black workers make up less than half of what would be expected given their population in six out of 10 healthcare professions.
  • The Tracker allows visitors to compare representation in their state to national averages. The national Diversity Index for Hispanic pharmacy graduates is 0.28 (where parity would be equal to 1.0). An example of the data available from the tool: the four states with the highest Diversity Indices for Hispanic pharmacy graduates are Texas (0.51), West Virginia (0.63), New Mexico (0.87) and Florida (0.97).
  • The Tracker contains data on nearly 3,900 different health professions education programs across the 10 professions, including the number of graduates between 2017 and 2019, the percent that were Black, Hispanic and white, and their Diversity Index. Of the 3,900 health programs, 460 had zero Black graduates and 359 programs had zero Hispanic graduates between 2017 and 2019.
  • As an example of data for a specific health program, the Diversity Tracker shows that 5.7% of Drexel University physician graduates were Black between 2017 and 2019 compared to 12.7% of the college age population in Pennsylvania. In the same period, 4.4% of Drexel physician graduates were Hispanic compared to 9.3% of the college age population in Pennsylvania.

“This data will give decision makers a fuller picture of the widespread lack of diversity in many health professions and inspire a sense of urgency and targeted efforts to improve diversity within healthcare pipelines and workforce” Maria Portela, a co-director of the GW Diversity Initiative, and an assistant professor at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences, said.

The interactive map was created by the Health Workforce Diversity Initiative, a program of the Fitzhugh Mullan Institute for Health Workforce Equity, which is based at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. The Mullan Institute works to help support a diverse and healthy workforce in the United States. Support for the development of the Health Workforce Diversity Tracker was received from The California Endowment and the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation.

To learn more about the Health Workforce Diversity Tracker, click here.