The Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions

One in three Americans is a member of a racial or ethnic minority group, with African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and American Indians making up more than a quarter of the nation's population. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that by 2042, there will be no majority population in the United States. But health care for many Americans in these racial and ethnic minorities has not improved sufficiently in our increasingly diverse society. In too many cases, race or ethnicity still influence health status, access to health care, and health outcomes. In its report, the Sullivan Commission described the current situation: “…too many Americans are suffering life or death consequences… the time is right and our citizens are anxious for action.”

Under the leadership of Dr. Louis W. Sullivan, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Sullivan Alliance to Transform America’s Health Professions was organized in January 2005, to act on the reports and recommendations of the Sullivan Commission (Missing Persons: Minorities in the Health Professions), and the Institute of Medicine Committee on Institutional and Policy-Level Strategies for Increasing the Diversity of the U.S. Healthcare Workforce (In the Nation’s Compelling Interest: Ensuring Diversity in the Healthcare Workforce). The Alliance is based at the Health Policy Institute of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The primary focus of the Alliance’s activities over the next three years will be on the health professions of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and psychology, with the expectation that efforts in these areas will also benefit the other health professions.

Drawing on the experience and expertise of leading health, business, community, education, and legal experts, the Sullivan Alliance will: (1) raise awareness of the importance and value of achieving racial and ethnic diversity in the health professions; (2) disseminate information about “best practices” and resources that enhance diversity; and (3) stimulate academic programs in the four health professions of medicine, dentistry, nursing, and psychology to create new—or more effectively implement existing—diversity initiatives.

Through strong leadership, deep commitment, and sustainable efforts, the Sullivan Alliance aims to transform the health professions and help eliminate the gaps in health status and access to health care that affect too many Americans.