California’s Health Care Workforce Should Be More Diverse, New Report Says


Greenlining Institute Study Highlights Barriers for Youth of Color  

Contact: Bruce Mirken, Greenlining Institute Media Relations Director, 415-846-7758 (cell)

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – With California facing a serious shortage of health care workers as it copes with COVID-19, a new report from The Greenlining Institute looks at the barriers that keep young people of color out of the health field and what can be done to overcome those barriers.

The report, Opening Pathways for Youth of Color: The Future of California’s Health Workforce, notes that while Black, Latino and Native American communities make up 62 percent of California’s people, less than six percent of California physicians are Latino and just five percent are Black. In partnership with the Alameda County Health Pathway Partnership program, Greenlining conducted surveys and a focus group with program alumni to get a picture of the challenges they face in pursuing health careers and what sorts of support would reduce those challenges.

“Young people of color want to work in the health care field, but too many obstacles get in their way,” said report coauthor Christian Beauvoir. “The starkly higher rate of COVID-19 deaths for Black and Latino Californians reminds us how important it is to have a diverse health workforce that can deliver culturally competent care.”

Among the report’s key findings:

Challenges young people of color faced included

  • Finances, including cost-prohibitive expenses associated with college applications and tuition,
  • Transportation, with lengthy commutes and lack of money forcing many to use riskier transportation alternatives to cut costs, and
  • Lack of support systems to help them get into and navigate higher education.

Key supportive factors participants cited included

  • Exposure to a variety of health careers and professionals,
  • Social support and mentorship, particularly for first-generation and low-income youth, and
  • Financial assistance that eased the cost burden and reduced the need to choose between further education and holding a job to support themselves and their families.

The report concludes with a series of policy recommendations designed to reduce the barriers cited and increase availability of supports, including passage of Proposition 16 to allow the state to more effectively address racial disparities in education.

To learn more about The Greenlining Institute, visit


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