The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women and Macy’s are awarding 16 scholarships of $2,500 each to help increase the number of  minority  healthcare professionals in hopes of better meeting the cultural needs of racially diverse patients.

The number of minority medical school graduates is increasing steadily, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. Among 17,341 medical school graduates in 2012, 1,163 were African-American, 1,294 Hispanic and 3,721 Asian.

However, the figures are still low compared with the population at large. Only 5.4 percent of African-American and 3.6 percent of Hispanic nurses in the nation are registered nurses. In contrast, African-Americans are 13 percent of the nation’s population, while Hispanics or Latinos make up 17 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census Bureau, based on data from 2010, the most recent available. Minorities represent almost 37 percent of the U.S. population in total.

Meanwhile, census demographics indicate that minority population growth is expected to increase in relation to whites in the coming years.

“The numbers speak for themselves, as the demographics change and more ethnically and racially diverse populations grow, there will definitely continue to be a need for healthcare providers who mirror these patients,” said Eva Gomez, MSN RN-BC CPN and scholarship judge.  “Having more ethnically and racially diverse providers will make it possible to deliver healthcare that is meaningful, culturally appropriate and in the context of the person, thus making it patient and family-centered care.”

Numerous ethnic groups — including African-Americans and Hispanics — are at higher risk for heart disease. Healthcare providers who can reach those groups could make a difference.

“The patient’s cultural identification, spiritual affiliation, language and gender can all affect the care they need, and their behavioral responses to illness,” Dr. Deidre Woods-Walton, national president for National Black Nurses Association.

“Throughout my 20-year career in healthcare, I’ve learned that having a cultural connection between patients and healthcare providers, impacts the provider-patient dynamic,” agreed Gomez.  “The way in which healthcare providers, who look and sound like their patients, connect with them makes a positive impact on how patients and families respond, consult and accept healthcare guidance and care.”


The 2014 scholarship recipients are:

  • Maryam Khazraee: post-graduate pharmacy student at the University of Florida
  • Beverly Quiros: junior at Emory/Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
  • Francesca Voza: post-graduate psychology student at City University of New York Hunter College
  • Shani Legore: senior studying physician and public health research at Southern Connecticut State University
  • Susan Samuel: freshman physician student at Temple University School of Medicine
  • Tiffany Phan: post-graduate speech/language pathology student at Loyola University Maryland
  • Toni King: post-graduate nursing student at Frontier Nursing University
  • Alicia Owens: sophomore studying dentistry at the University of Cincinnati
  • Hong Chartrand: post-graduate public health student at the University of Arizona
  • Kiara Rainey: senior studying dentistry at Tennessee State University
  • Korina Fitzpatrick: post-graduate nursing student at Marymount University
  • Temitope Adeyeni: senior studying clinical laboratory science at Saint Louis University
  • Chantel Underwood: senior studying nursing at Nazareth College of Rochester
  • Taylor Boatman: freshman studying pediatric reconstructive surgery at College of Charleston
  • Wen Mai Wong: sophomore studying to be a physician investigator at St. Mary’s University
  • Andrea Ibarra: junior studying to be a physician at University of Illinois

Macy’s is the founding national sponsor of the association’s Go Red For Women and Go Red Por Tu Corazón awareness campaigns.

The Go Red Multicultural Scholarships are part of Macy’s Multicultural Fund, which was created in 2009 to increase diversity in the medical field.

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