Health care scholarships are offered |

Health care scholarships are offered

Provided to the Tribune

Seventy-five $2,000 scholarships are available for Spanish-speaking, bicultural high-school students who want to pursue careers in the health care industry. The scholarships, funded by the PacifiCare Foundation, are offered on behalf of the UnitedHealthcare Latino Health Scholars program, which helps educate and encourage Hispanic and Latino students to pursue career opportunities in health care.

High-school seniors who have a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and are fluent in Spanish and English are eligible. Applicants must show proof of acceptance into a university, community college or accredited technical college and must be enrolled in an approved health care program at the time they receive the scholarship. Applications are due May 29 and are available online at

“The Office of Minority Health cites a nationwide shortage of bilingual and bicultural health care professionals and calls for improvements in recruiting and retaining minority students into health care professions,” said Russell Bennett, vice president of Latino Health Solutions at UnitedHealthcare. “For example, in the nursing field, a recent policy report by the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing states that the proportion of Latino nursing students continues to lag behind the number of Latinos in the population.

“Nationwide, many Latinos do not have access to culturally and linguistically appropriate care, and this has a far-reaching effect on their health and quality of life,” Bennett said. “Studies show that patients respond better when care instructions are delivered in their own language and their cultural background is taken into account.”

Once again, the Latino Health Scholars program has been expanded to include – in addition to the 75 scholarships of $2,000 – two $25,000 Freedom Awards for the two most qualified applicants.

Since it was introduced in 2003, the Latino Health Scholars program has awarded $356,000 to 155 students across the country who are pursuing diverse health care careers such as nursing, pre-med, biology, psychology, biomedical engineering and other allied health professions.

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“We applaud UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to help pave the way for the next generation of Hispanic health care professionals,” said Elena Rios, M.D., president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Medical Association. “We believe the Latino Health Scholars program can inspire these students to succeed in school and pursue rewarding, fulfilling health care careers that will make a positive impact in their communities.”