a message from dr. esther R. dyer

President & CEO

Esther Profile PicAs the healthcare needs of our nation change, the work we do at NMF becomes increasingly urgent. Now more than ever we need more physicians and other healthcare professionals who understand the culture and language of the millions of people who have been uninsured and underserved by the healthcare system. More than 32 million of these Americans will become eligible to receive care under the Affordable Care Act. We have seen an acceleration of efforts throughout the entire healthcare industry to achieve a diverse provider workforce, which can better serve this large and vulnerable population.

As NMF’s President since 2006, I am pleased to report on our progress. What has been exciting for me is to see the powerful validation of NMF’s mission from just about everyone who cares about the health and healthcare of our nation. Since its inception in 1946, NMF has remained true to the vision of our founder, Dr. Franklin C. McLean. He and his associates set out to increase residency training opportunities for black physicians; this was a matter of equal opportunity, in itself an issue at the time. McLean’s greatest contribution was to see further — to see that the health of the black community would be improved by the training of African American physicians better able to serve their community. This was a new and bold idea at the time, long before the term diversity became part of our vocabulary.

NMF’s mission is to change the face of medicine to better reflect our most deeply held values about equality and our diversity as a nation. Yet the data show that minorities are still underrepresented in medicine. We have more work to do, but there’s no doubt about it: the face of medicine is changing.

NMF’s programs have evolved and expanded to meet these new challenges. The GE-NMF Primary Care Leadership Program (PCLP), funded by GE Foundation, is an ambitious “pipeline” program, designed to produce the physicians, nurses and physician assistants we so urgently need. Launched in 2012, PCLP places medical, nursing and physician assistant students in community health centers (CHCs) for a dynamic service learning experience, which includes clinical rotations, leadership training and an independent project. By 2015, PCLP will expand to include 32 partner CHCs in 14 cities across the country. Between 2012 and 2015, PCLP will award 300 scholarships to promising students. Through this program, and in many other ways, NMF is working to build the capacity of the community health centers that are the backbone of our healthcare system for poor, migrant, immigrant, homeless, uninsured and minority Americans. This innovative model also seeks to develop linkages among healthcare providers at an early stage in their careers and targets future physicians, nurses and physician assistants.

At the same time, we are proud to be working in the heart of one of our great urban centers, the city of Chicago, to meet goals for diversity among healthcare professionals. With The Chicago Community Trust we have established a unique scholarship program for medical students and residents who are committed to practicing in underserved areas of Chicago.

These and all NMF programs have a powerful impact on the careers of young physicians—reinforcing their ideals of community service and making it more likely that they will choose to serve in areas of need. NMF’s leadership/service learning and scholarship and awards programs also provide models for the nation, as they address the need for diversity in the healthcare workforce—a need and value that everyone now recognizes.

But what makes NMF special is its commitment to the future. The medical students whom we support and nurture today will be our leaders tomorrow. This is not just a hope; it is a hope based on the evidence. As a 68-year-old organization, we have outcomes. Our NMF scholars (or Alumni) are now distinguished researchers in major academic medical centers; leaders in government (including two Surgeons General); leaders in philanthropy (including the Presidents/CEOs of some of the largest healthcare foundations in the US); and leaders in primary care and community health center practice across the nation. They are physicians and leaders who are shaping the healthcare of the future.

I invite you to visit our programs, and get to know our students and Alumni, on this website, and at upcoming events. We look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Dr. Esther R. Dyer
President & CEO

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