The University of Hartford is working to combat healthcare inequities through education and bringing on additional staff through the next three years.
The effort is a part of the university's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion while addressing the effects of systemic racism.
The college plans to hire an additional 16 faculty members, comprised of medical professionals, of color to educate up-and-coming health care leaders about health disparities.
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Gema Granados is a sophomore studying nursing at the University of Hartford and tells NBC Connecticut having a diverse group of professors is necessary for students of color.
"One of the concerns from the student body is addressing the lack of diversity with faculty," said Granados. "It's important to have people that look like you and share your experiences when you're learning and gaining experiences."
School leaders heard those concerns and are taking action. The College of Education of Nursing and Health Professions is the department hiring 16 faculty members. The goal is to address, discuss and attack systemic racism head-on while in the classroom.
"We are looking across the university to span disciplinary boundaries because complex issues require perspectives and life experiences," said Cesarina Thompson, the Dean of College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions. "It's not just about health and physical health but really there are societal issues, economic issues, educational issues that impact someone's health status and access to health care."
For perspective, the University has 360 full-time faculty members. Forty-three are Asian, 13 are Black and 10 identify as Hispanic. The university also has 595 staff members, 93 are Black, 40 are Hispanic, 16 are Asian and 14 identify as two or more races.
"I think it'll encourage undecided students to go into different focuses within the medical field," said Jasmine Streeter, a senior who is studying health science and physical therapy at the university. "Hopefully, this will push students to do something different with themselves.
According to the Department of Labor, there will be 2.4 million new health care jobs by 2026 and 2016 - 2026 Connecticut Employment Projections for Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations (state.ct.us).
The university tells NBC Connecticut it is committed to ensure students are well-rounded and ready to make a change in the medical field.
"We need to have more health care providers who really mirror the populations that they serve," said Cesarina Thompson.