With the spring semester fully underway, 77 new students are with us – in the School of Nursing, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and our newest school, the School of Healthcare Leadership. All have joined the IHP to become healthcare professionals or advance their career in health care. Each has demonstrated the courage to work in health care at a time when the industry is facing significant challenges. 

We are experiencing the most significant health professional shortage of the last 25 years and those who enter clinical practice will find an overburdened system that is working hard to provide the best care. At this juncture, we need the best minds, the most thoughtful providers, and the most critical thinkers to help us work our way out of these challenging times.  

With a mission of preparing healthcare leaders of tomorrow, the IHP welcomes you to one of the most meaningful journeys of your life. 

The IHP is gearing up for Black History Month. Since 1976, February has been designated as the month we celebrate Black American achievement and contributions in building America while recognizing their struggles against centuries-old oppression and systemic racism. This year’s theme is Black Resistance, examining the fight against oppression by Black Americans over the years.  

As I think about Black History Month, my thoughts go to the challenges Black Americans face as they navigate the healthcare delivery system. In the recent Caldwell Rounds that explored the humanity of care for patients with genetic conditions, one of our panelists, Dr. Sharl Azar, spoke of his experience in treating patients with sickle cell disease. He described a healthcare delivery system that allows Black and Brown patients to endure the unimaginable pain of sickle cell disease without pain medications while white patients are routinely medicated. Several studies have shown that Black patients receive 40% less medication and Hispanic patient receive 25% less medication to ease severe pain in emergency rooms. This research, as well as Dr. Azar’s experience, demonstrates that our healthcare system is not just, nor is it designed to provide equitable care to people of all races. 

While this is only one example of the inequitable treatment of patients based on race, I can think of several others including access to cardiac surgery and prenatal care resulting in Black maternal mortality exceeding that of white patients by 2.5%. Our role as providers includes recognizing these areas of injustice in health care and providing leadership in addressing them. Our focus must be on improving health care in all settings - for all people.   

The IHP will recognize Black History Month with several events and activities, some educational and some social. Please check the website’s new Events page throughout the month for information about dates and times of Black History Month events. I do want to share with you one event that Dr. Kimberly Truong, our Chief Equity Officer, is participating in on February 1 and 2 entitled Health Justice and Belonging. This conference is completely free and relevant to Black communities. 

My hope for each of you is a peaceful and productive semester. Looking forward to spring.