A Blue Shield of California-funded UC Berkeley School of Public Health fellowship program will begin this fall to create a pipeline for underrepresented communities in the medical field.

This new program, called the Blue Shield of California Health Equity Fellowship program, will target students of African American, Native American, Latino and Pacific Islander descent, according to director of philanthropy at the Morry School of Public Health Rao Hermón. Hermón added that funding for this project will come solely from Blue Shield of California in the amount of $7 million over five years.

“It’s about addressing the lack of diversity in healthcare professions, especially in leadership positions, with data analytics skills to address racial disparities in healthcare,” Hermón said. .

According to Blue Shield spokesperson Mark Seelig, graduate students pursuing master’s and doctoral studies admitted to the program will receive training on how to use data and analytics to improve public health and the environment. equity in their communities.

One of Blue Shield’s goals is to hire many scholars after graduation, Seelig added.

Seelig noted that in addition to financial aid, the program will provide fellows with work experience such as internships and access to mentors. Fellows will also have access to early outreach and recruitment, mentoring and career services, educational and mental health counseling, networking opportunities with former fellows, and career opportunities. apply biostatistics and advanced analytical expertise to real business challenges.

“Many of our students will be getting nice financial aid to ease their debt load when they graduate,” Hermón said.

Currently, underrepresented groups in the School of Public Health make up a total of 40% of graduating students, according to Hermón, and lack of financial aid is a significant factor in that number.

Over five years, the program will serve about 100 master’s and doctoral candidates in communities primarily underrepresented in California’s healthcare industry, according to Seelig.

“The health inequities that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us the need to develop health policies and practices in a culturally sensitive way,” said DD Johnice, Vice President of Health Blue Shield’s Transformation Lab, in an email. “We cannot achieve health equity without developing and supporting diverse top talent.”

Fixes: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that minorities make up a total of 40% of the medical field. In fact, it is the graduate student body at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health that is made up of 40% students from underrepresented groups.

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