Biomedical, healthcare leaders must work to build a diverse workforce

Healthcare providers and companies are more aware than ever of the value of having a diverse and inclusive workforce. But they cannot simply post a job posting and expect applicants from minority groups to show up on their doorstep, especially at a time when demand for skilled labor is high and supply is scarce. lacking again. Leaders need to go the extra mile and take an active role in encouraging people from all walks of life to pursue careers in biomedical and healthcare.

Colleges and universities like ours have been working to expand their science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) systems to include students who have traditionally been undervalued in academic disciplines. this field. But we cannot do it alone. We need industry partners.

Less than 15% of Americans graduate with a Ph. in the biological and biomedical sciences and about 19% of Americans who graduate with an MD are Black, Hispanic, or Native American, even though these groups together make up more than 30% of the U.S. population. Many of these graduates enter biomedical research, a field where only 2% of scientists are black and 6% are of Hispanic or other race (non-Asian). ASIAN).

Biomedical research often reflects on the people who do it, fund it, and set the agenda for it. Genetic studies and reference genomics are dominated by DNA from people of European ancestry. More than three-quarters of people participating in clinical trials of new drugs are white. The biases inherent in the research landscape that contribute to a health care system don’t always work as well for people of color as it does for whites. For example, some drugs that are tested primarily on white patients are later found to be less effective or even harmful for people of color.

If we want medical innovations to work for everyone, we must expand the pool of talented researchers shaping tomorrow’s healthcare advancements. As our populations diversify and markets grow more global than ever before, American companies will struggle to compete without a diverse STEM workforce.

We need biomedical and healthcare leaders to partner with colleges and universities to train their future workforce. Corporations can lend their scientists guest lectures or visiting professorships to educate and stimulate more students about opportunities in care and research. Internship and training programs help companies develop strong relationships with underperforming students before they enter the job market. On-campus job fairs and field visits to companies can help prospective scientists access career opportunities beyond their existing network.

At Central University of North Carolina, a predominantly Black university, industry partnerships are essential to efforts to direct Black students into biomedical careers. The school’s Clinical Research Science program prepares undergraduates for work conducting laboratory research and coordinating clinical trials. Partnerships with local biotech and pharmaceutical companies ensure the curriculum is relevant to industry needs, facilitate student mentoring and create opportunities as students graduate. .

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