WASHINGTON – Excelencia in Education today unveiled new research showing that Latino degree attainment is increasing in high-demand health related fields while job placements are concentrated in lower paying healthcare occupations.  The brief provides analysis of the state of Latino degree attainment in healthcare fields and offers evidence-based examples of what works to improve Latino academic success in the related disciplines. With additional support from Herbalife, Excelencia in Education releases Finding Your Workforce: Health to continue linking America’s college completion goals with the country’s workforce needs. 

Finding Your Workforce: Health Key Findings:

  • Latinos graduating with credentials in health professions in 2012-13 were highly concentrated in credentials useful for some of the fastest growing occupations in the nation – healthcare support occupations.  However, these credentials are not sufficient for some of the highest paying healthcare occupations – health practitioners.
  • The numbers of Latinos earning credentials in health fields has increased over the last four years.
  • Latino degree attainment in health occupations was concentrated at the certificate and associate level.
  • Latinos working in heath occupations are concentrated in lower paying jobs.
  • Latinos earned credentials in health fields at a relatively small number of institutions, many identified as Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs).
  • Institutions can graduate a handful of Latinos and still rank among the top 25 awarding graduate degrees to Latinos.

 Latinos in Healthcare Occupations

“There is good news in this analysis. Latinos have the fastest growth in postsecondary enrollment and completion, and their labor force participation is the highest of any group. However, the Latino educational attainment gap remains, and labor force participation tends to be concentrated in lower paying jobs.” Sarita Brown, president of Excelencia in Education. 

“We found that Latinos are more than twice as likely to be employed in healthcare support — jobs like personal care aides, home health aides, and physical therapist aides — than in healthcare practitioner occupations, such as dentists, physicians, and surgeons,” said Deborah Santiago, Excelencia in Education’s chief operating officer and vice president for policy, who co-authored the report.  “Healthcare support jobs pay about a quarter as much as healthcare practitioners, so this is a very real disparity.”

“Herbalife is proud to support this research and applauds Excelencia in Education for including strategies to help Latino students complete their health programs so we have a health workforce that looks more like our country,” said Dr. Rocio Medina, Herbalife vice president of Worldwide Nutrition Training.  “As a Latina doctor however, the findings concern me because I know there is a real need for the cultural competency Latino practitioners bring to the table, particularly in addressing the health disparities that plague our community.”


Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos in Health Professions

Excelencia in Education’s analysis found that institutions can graduate only a handful of Latinos and still rank among the Top 25, and that those institutions are primarily located in three states – California, Texas, Florida – and Puerto Rico, and many of them are Hispanic-Serving Institutions.  The top institutions awarding certificates or degrees to Latinos in health professions or related programs for the 2012-2013 school year by academic level are:

·        Certificate level: Instituto de Banco y Comercio, PR

·        Associate level: Miami Dade College, FL

·        Bachelor level: The University of Texas-Pan American, TX

·        Master’s: University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences, PR

·        1st professional: University of Puerto Rico-Medical Sciences, PR

·        Doctoral: The University of Texas at El Paso, TX


What Works for Latino Students in Health Programs

Excelencia in Education conducted informational interviews with representatives from several of the Top 25 institutions graduating Latinos in health professions to gain insight into some practices increasing Latino college completion.  While the information reflected through these interviews is not exhaustive, four consistent areas of focus emerged to increase the numbers of Latino graduates within their programs:

·        Financial Aid.  Most students need financial aid to pay for postsecondary education, and Latinos are no exception. Each of the institutional representatives interviewed highlighted the importance of financial aid and scholarships beyond federal financial aid to help students continue in their programs.

·        Intrusive Advising. Institutions used various forms of intrusive advising to increase retention and reduce time to graduation.  These programs all create an active and inescapable mentoring relationship with the student to identify problems early and make course corrections to ensure success.

·        Alternative Pathways. Each of the participating institution discussed how they enroll high numbers of post-traditional students—first-generation, working and raising families, and commuting to campus. The institutions implemented student-driven approaches and alternative pathways that acknowledge the realities of the student body they are serving.

·        Community Partnerships. Partnerships between institutions of higher education and the surrounding community provide a linkage to the workforce for students after graduation. In health professions, these partnerships allow students to gain on-the-job experience through internships and clinical rotations. These opportunities also connect students to mentors and professionals in their fields of study to further develop relationships between the institution and the community. Partnerships fostered by institutions of higher education with the workforce community and with graduate schools also provide students with a professional network throughout their careers.

This brief includes highly effective programs and departments among the Top 25 institutions conferring degrees to Latinos in health professions and related programs.  More information about these and other evidence-based programs may be found in Excelencia in Education’s Growing What Works database at: www.EdExcelencia.org/examples.

To download the full brief Finding Your Workforce: Health, and infographic please visit http://www.edexcelencia.org/research/workforce/health


Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia is building a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leadership. For more information, visit: www.EdExcelencia.org.



Release Date
Thu, 04/16/2015 - 10:47am
Washington, DC
Media Contact