med_students_web.jpg(BLACK PR WIRE) — Minority students pursuing health careers are far more motivated by a desire to serve their community than by potential financial rewards, according to new research released today by United Health Foundation.

When asked what is the single most important motivation, 46 percent of minority scholars cited having a positive impact on people’s lives as their top reason for pursuing a health career. Only 17 percent cited salary or income.

Although money is not a primary motivation for these students, it is a primary source of stress and discouragement. Of those polled, 98 percent said financial hurdles are a significant barrier to achieving their education and career goals.

To address this shortfall, the United Health Foundation is awarding more than $1.2 million in scholarships to more than 200 students from diverse, multicultural backgrounds. From 2007 through this year, United Health Foundation will have awarded nearly 1,000 scholarships, totaling more than $5 million, to students throughout the country.

The research, conducted by APCO Insight and funded by United Health Foundation, polled about 500 minority students pursuing health careers. More than 60 percent of respondents said there are not enough minority health professionals. One in four said they had never been treated by a health professional of the same or similar racial or ethnic background as themselves. Nearly 90 percent said they are interested in working to serve a community with the same or similar racial or ethnic background as themselves.

The research is being released in conjunction with United Health Foundation’s fourth annual Diverse Scholars Forum, which brings 76 scholarship recipients to Washington, D.C., this week to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments and inspire them to work toward strengthening the nation’s health care system.

“We know patients do best when they are treated by people who understand their language and culture,” said Kate Rubin, president, United Health Foundation. “United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to help support these outstanding students who are demonstrating impressive purpose and passion and who will help lead the way to better health access and outcomes.”

The Diverse Scholars Initiative is administered through partnerships with a variety of nonprofit and civic organizations; United Health Foundation does not select the recipients. Scholarship recipients must demonstrate financial need, the pursuit of a degree that will lead to a career in a health field and a commitment to working in underserved communities, including community health centers. Additional requirements and application deadlines vary by organization.

For more information about the research and the Diverse Scholars Initiative visit