By Art Garza and Ruben Castro

According to the census report, more than 80% of the people who live in the El Paso metropolitan area identify as Hispanic. Yet Hispanic students are under-represented in health care education as reported by the Mexican American Hispanic Physician Association. 

Art Garza

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare and the University of Texas at El Paso recently announced a new partnership that aims to improve that representation in advanced education. During Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s important to examine why efforts like this one are necessary and overdue. 

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare, part of HCA Healthcare’s Central and West Texas Division, and UTEP have created a four-year program to establish graduate nursing fellowships and set up a graduate degree tract in health care administration. The $750,000 grant from HCA Healthcare is part of its $10-million commitment to Hispanic-serving institutions and historically Black colleges and universities across the country.

The new partnership will support more than 30 nursing fellows and more than 50 health care administration opportunities.

Why are partnerships like this one important? Because they increase the likelihood of the number of under-represented health care students who then go on to treat underserved communities. These health care professionals contribute to greater diversity in health care settings.

Ruben Castro

An article published in 2019 in the Journal of the National Medical Association reported that in a review of 16 research studies, patients generally fared better when care was delivered by more diverse medical teams. Translation: Diversity in the health care workforce can improve our health.

The need for diversity in health care professions certainly extends to nursing. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing says addressing this need is a high priority for the nursing profession; this incudes attracting people to the profession from Hispanic, Black, Asian, American Indian and Alaskan native backgrounds.

“Nursing’s leaders recognize a strong connection between a culturally diverse nursing workforce and the ability to provide quality, culturally competent patient care,” the association says. “Though nursing has made great strides in recruiting and graduating nurses that mirror the patient population, more must be done before adequate representation becomes a reality.”

Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare is committed to help make adequate representation a reality in the El Paso area, most notably in the Hispanic community, as evident by this latest partnership with UTEP. 

Through these programs, internship opportunities will be provided across HCA Healthcare’s Central and West Texas Division, including Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare hospitals. Overall, the partnership seeks to develop the pipeline of healthcare talent in this region and, most importantly, to improve the health and lives of your family, friends, colleagues and neighbors.

One significant aspect of the Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare/HCA/UTEP partnership is that it will not only contribute to a better El Paso, but to a better country. While we hope participants in the partnership will stay and work in the El Paso area, they may take jobs — either soon or someday — in other parts of Texas or around the country. 

We are proud to be part of this community and to be in leadership roles within Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare. It is with immense pride that we may inspire others to pursue healthcare leadership roles in the future.

Art Garza is chief executive officer at Del Sol Medical Center, and Ruben Castro is chief operating officer at Las Palmas Medical Center.