The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Commitment to Increasing Minorities in the Health Professions

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation seeks to increase the number of minority health practitioners as part of their goal of improving access to quality care for minorities. Over the years, these efforts have taken several forms, such as funding scholarship programs, providing institutional support to medical schools and implementing the Minority Medical Education Program to better prepare minorities for the rigors of gaining acceptance into health care educational programs. This selection from "To Improve Health and Healthcare, Volume VII", discusses the efforts of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in advancing this agenda. The authors frame their discussion chronologically, beginning in the earliest days of the Foundation's history. The world into which the Foundation entered in the early 1970s was propelled in terms of policy toward minorities by the momentum of the civil rights era and the efforts of similar but older philanthropic organizations. Early programming of the Foundation included support for Meharry Medical College and funding of scholarship programs aimed at women, minorities and rural applicants. In 1987, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation established the Minority Medical Education Program. This program showed great promise and demonstrated substantial success, enough to warrant its renewal and even expansion through the 1990s. After their historical synopsis, the authors offer general observations and conclusions. Foremost among these is that increasing the numbers of minorities who prepare for college and graduate health programs remains a high priority for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.