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Celebrating NHSC Hispanic Heritage: Providing Culturally Competent Health Care

For National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15), and as part of our anniversary celebration, we want to highlight our Hispanic and Latino National Health Service Corps (NHSC) providers. They are among our diverse health workforce that provides effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful services to patients from all backgrounds.

A large part of that diversity of care includes providing culturally competent, compassionate care to people of Hispanic origin, a group that constitutes the United States’ largest ethnic minority. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections the Latino population will reach 111.2 million by 2060, which will be 28% of the total U.S. population.

According to the HHS Office of Minority Health, U.S. Hispanics typically have lower income, less education, and higher unemployment rates. They also have lower rates of health insurance coverage and lack access to quality preventive care. Further, they were also among the top groups of patients who experienced greater rates of death during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The [NHSC] program is an incentive to pay these debts that we have when we study medicine,” Perez said. “And certainly, they not only come here because of the incentive, but because we also have a community mission…we’ve attracted them, we’ve kept them here and the retention has held.”

Communication and Connection

“I felt that by being bilingual, by understanding the cultural barriers, I could help many, many people to not be as afraid of the dentist,” Dr. Maria Martinez, an NHSC Loan Repayment Program recipient serving in rural Idaho, said. “I think that by being an NHSC member and what that means to my patients is for me to be available to them and they feel valued and appreciated.”

Recruiting Begins in the Community

Dedicated professionals like Sanchez, an NHSC SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Program recipient, comprise the 12% of NHSC clinicians of Hispanic and Latino descent who contribute to the NHSC member numbers outpacing the national Hispanic/Latino average in several primary care medical, dental and behavioral health care disciplines in recent reports.

We are looking toward the future to create even greater diversity among our ranks. The NHSC Scholar Pipeline, health professional students in residency at the communities where they live through other Bureau of Health Workforce programs. And it’s working, more than 49% of the Hispanic/Latino health professionals in school in 2019 reported that they plan to serve in underserved communities. And many of them are or will become members of the NHSC’s story.

Meet a Few NHSC Hispanic/Latino(a) Members and Approved Health Center Staff

Interested in Becoming an NHSC Clinician?

Get ready to apply for the NHSC Students to Service Loan Repayment Program. Join the nearly 2,500 Hispanic/Latino clinicians serving the communities they love.

Latino/Hispanic NHSC Clinicians Outpace Some National Averages

Chart comparing the Hispanic/Latino diversity of the National Health Service Corps compared to the national workforce. Full text description follows the image.
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National Health Service Corps Hispanic/Latino Diversity Chart comparing National Health Workforce provider averages* and NHSC provider averages.

  • Latino Physicians – 5.8% national average, 15.8% NHSC workforce average
  • Latino Physician Assistants – 8.2% national workforce average, 13.6% NHSC average
  • Hispanic Licensed Clinical Social Workers – 13.4% national workforce average, 15.7% NHSC average
  • Latino Dental Hygienists – 8.6% national workforce average, 20.5% NHSC average
  • Latino Health Service Psychologists – 11.2% national workforce average, 20.3% NHSC average

*Sources:

  • Association of American Medical Colleges, Diversity in Medicine: Facts and Figures, 2019
  • Physician Assistant Education Association, By the Numbers: Program Report 35, Washington, DC: PAEA, 2019
  • U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Characteristics by Race and Ethnicity 2018, October 2019, Report 1082

Previous Articles

NHSC Success: Connecting Clinicians to Communities

NHSC Impact: Treating the Nation’s Mental Health and Opioid Crisis

NHSC: A Public Health Impact Story

NHSC Nurses Month Q&A: NHSC Alum, Family Nurse Practitioner Margaret Flinter, Class of 1980

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