The Health Professions Partnership Initiative and Working Toward Diversity in the Health Care Workforce

This introduction, written as a forward to a supplement on improving diversity in the health professions, summarizes some of the history of the Health Professions Partnership Initiative (HPPI), and reiterates the pressing need to increase representation of minorities in the health professions. Increasing the number of minorities in these professions will help eliminate disparities in health and health care experienced by racial and ethnic minorities. HPPI was founded in 1998 to boost minority students' academic performance and increase enrollment in medical schools by these students. The initiative established 26 sites of collaboration, including health professional schools, K-12 schools, colleges and communities.

The next step in the future of HPPI is to build evaluative parameters into the collaborative programs. This was not done at the outset and it is difficult to retroactively gather data that can answer questions about program effectiveness. Now, however, requests for funding regularly require baseline data and comprehensive evaluation plans from prospective grantees.

The HPPI program as a funding initiative has concluded, but many of its programs have followed through on their commitment to institutionalize themselves and their collaborations. The author hopes that this dedication and follow-through will result in changes in the racial and ethnic makeup of medical communities.