Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Occupational Therapy

I read an interesting article today about attrition and racial and ethnic diversity. This article is in the Journal of Allied Health (which is a great resource, btw), vol 39, issue #2, pages 104-109 entitled Racial-Ethnic Diversity in Allied Health, the Continuing Challenge, author Fred Donini-Lenhoff.

The article discussed how "the racial-ethnic diversity of health professionals has not kept pace with demographic changes in the general population of the United States, with significant consequences for the health of minority populations and access to health care services."

Some interesting points:
  • "Student attrition in allied health educational programs is not a new problem"
  • "...attrition among students from underrepresented minorities remains high (most noticeably at for-profit institutions)"
  • " In addition, attrition is an issue throughout the community college environment, where many allied health programs are located, 'because many students are ill-prepared academically when they enter college and juggle classes with work and family obligations. Little is offered in the way of tutoring, counseling or financial aid.'"
I can attest to the truth of this statement, at least here in Chicago. I completed my pre-requisites at a few community colleges and the support and guidance are NON-EXISTENT. Were it not for my driven personality, the support of my family, my business background and the fact that I have an undergraduate degree I probably would have given up. I see how easy it may be for someone to give up on pursuing a career in allied health, or any profession for that matter.
  • "...variables associated with a lowered persistence rate (attrition) in completing an allied health education degree in the United States included
  1. being under the age of 22,
  2. having a mother with a college degree,
  3. having low college entrance exam scores,
  4. having a low GPA or no reported GPA,
  5. working full-time,
  6. and attending a for-profit institution."
Again, I saw people who fit this demographic at the community colleges I went to and I can attest to the truth of this statement.

  • "To help individual students, mentoring, counseling, and academic/financial assistance - both pre- and post-admission - are needed to reduce attrition at all institutions, public and private, nonprofit and for-profit alike."

This article brings up some interesting points that I would one day like to pursue further. I thought it was interesting and found it important to share.


  1. Thanks for sharing this information about racial- ethnic diversity in occupational therapy. It is indeed an interesting article to read.

  2. Having a mother with a college degree?! Interesting....I wonder why. One of the two women in our masters program who represent our class's "diversity" did not come back for the second year. Very sad.

  3. Heey Kimberly

    I thought the article on racial-ethnic diversity was interesting to read. I was wondering whether you have more literature around experiences of occupational therapy students from ethnic minority group, as I am currently doing my disseration.
    Ma email is ms_fathia@hotmail.co.uk