President Devorah Lieberman of University of La Verne was recently interview by NPR about Convergence, a coalition of private and public higher education institutions, hospitals, and healthcare providers (and growing!) dedicated to addressing the shortage of healthcare professionals in the Inland Empire area. This shortage is critical because community members are not getting the specialized attention or follow up appointments they need, if they’re lucky enough to see a doctor in the first place. This organization proposes the creation of pathways across institutions so that high school graduates know they can get an education and be placed as a healthcare provider, promising job security and higher quality health service for the region.

President Lieberman stressed the importance of diversity and community engagement, as 50% of the residents in the region are Hispanic. Unfortunately only 20% of local nurses are Hispanic, so the field does not reflect the population they serve. Matching client characteristics with similar needs and language skills ensures these individuals will receive effective and empathetic care.

The Convergence compact is designed to support students at every point in the pathway. Someone is with them every step of the way to ensure they’re meeting the minimum requirements to automatically continue on to the next leg of their journey. The pathway would “clearly lay out paths that students could take, and at which institutions they could take them”. After receiving their graduate education and passing necessary licensing exams, students are encouraged to practice in the region, enabling first generation college students to positively impact their communities. It is impossible to meet the need of 16,600 additional professionals in the next two years, but President Lieberman believes the Convergence coalition can put a dent in that number.

You can listen to the full audio of this interview by clicking here. For more information on Convergence, check out their press event video.