UNM Funded to Address Urban Health Disparities

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - UNM has been selected to participate in a national initiative, Universities for Health Equity through Alignment, Leadership, and Transformation of the Healthcare Workforce – or –U-HEALTH.U-HEALTHwill bolster health equity locally through the health workforce by building diversity capacity and engagement through universities and health professions schools.

UNM’s Health Sciences Center (HSC) will receive $412,000 over four years to work through theU-HEALTHconsortium within Albuquerque to increase diversity institutionally systemically, while identifying strategies to strengthen healthcare in underserved urban communities.

According toU-HEALTH, healthcare professionals should be diverse, culturally competent, and well-trained. UNM’s Health Sciences already boasts an exceptional diversity, with 49 percent of students currently enrolled in its schools of medicine, nursing, and pharmacy being minority.

"Diversity in the workforce is a key component inreducing health disparities,” asserts Dr. Valerie Romero-Leggott, vice chancellor for diversity and a principal investigator on the grant. “TheU-HEALTHprogram will enableus evaluate where we stand, what we alreadydo well and where we need to improve our healthcare workforce acrossNew Mexico. We then can marshal resources to recruit andtrain our healthcare workers, anddetermine how best to treat our diversepopulationsin the state."

Five leading institutions were chosen as “anchor schools” to drive necessary changes for local health equity. Joining the UNM HSC are Cleveland State University/Northeast Ohio Medical University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and the State University of New York.

TheU-HEALTHinitiative is supported through collaboration between the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities, along with the Association of American Medical Colleges and the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health.

“In Albuquerque, we will focus first on communities in the South Valley and the Southeast Heights that experience significant health disparities. Knowledge gained from this project can be applied to other urban and rural populations and will improve our capabilities to reduce health workforce shortages statewide,” states Richard Larson, Executive Vice Chancellor and Vice Chancellor for Research at UNM Health Sciences Center.

“UNM is playing a leading role in theU-HEALTHinitiative because of our key programs, accomplishments and opportunities,” says Arthur Kaufman, vice chancellor for community health. “In addition to our Vision 2020 statement and our pipeline and decentralized education programs, the state’s health workforce data has been moved under the Office for Community Health so they will better address state needs in different fields, specialties and geographic areas. In addition, our urban focus will be strengthened by UNM’s Health Extension (HERO) coordinators in the two targeted Albuquerque neighborhoods.”

Short-term, this grant will strengthen UNM’s healthcare professionals and help the underserved population of Albuquerque and the rest of the state. Long-term, knowledge gained from this project will be applied to universities, healthcare clinics, and hospitals across the nation to enhance health equity in urban areas.

For more information on UNM HSC, visithttp://hsc.unm.edu/. For more information onU-HEALTH, visithttp://www.usucoalition.org/downloads/part6/U-HEALTH_PARTNERSHIP_Proposal.pdf
Contact: Luke Frank, 272-3322

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