From Our President
As the healthcare needs of our nation change, the work we do at NMF becomes increasingly urgent. I think you would agree: 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 historically been uninsured and underserved by the healthcare system.
NMF is the national organization that is dedicated to meeting this need. We provide scholarships and other support to medical students and health professions students who come from those uninsured and underserved communities–and who understand the patients they will serve, as students, and later as healthcare professionals.
The truth is that there is nationwide problem around diversity in the healthcare professions. Let’s start with physicians: we are facing a serious shortage of physicians – especially minority physicians. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) estimates that by 2025 the US will face a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians.
During this same period the US will experience a shift toward more diversity in the population. Unless we act now—this demographic shift—this human reality–will not be reflected in the physician workforce. Today African-Americans and Latinos represent about 33% of the population—but make up only 9% of physicians. It will take continuing effort on our part – a greater-than-ever effort—to support medical students from these underrepresented groups, to ensure a new generation of physicians and physician leaders.
As NMF’s President since 2006, I am pleased to report that we are up to this challenge. 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. The data show that minorities are still underrepresented in medicine, and 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, (and now supported by community funders) 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. Through PCLP and other programs, 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.
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 and health professional 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. NMF has been supporting minority medical students for more than 70 years—and we have “outcomes”–meaning data, of course, but also real human beings who have had an impact on countless patients, families, and communities. 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. NMF is building the next generation of healthcare leaders.
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.
Dr. Esther R. Dyer
President & CEO