BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) –  The Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) has 18 new initiatives for the 2023 fiscal year, and diversity among healthcare workers is at the top of that list.

The initiative specifically aims to address the need for diversity in the behavioral and physical health arenas.

Nationwide, hospitals are experiencing a shortage of healthcare workers and the gap is even more significant for medical professionals of color.

“And especially in our rural and underserved areas,” said Doris Brown, Assistant Secretary for LDH.

Brown says the plan for 2023 is to tackle the epidemic by breaking it down into simple goals, and one of those goals centers around recruiting.

Brown explained how recruiting efforts would be carried out, saying, “… to partner with our universities and medical schools to increase diversity within the health care delivery system. Want to enroll 15 providers by the end of this fiscal year, and this will provide a loan repayment for those two admissions that are working in the rural areas.”

Aside from recruiting more minorities, LDH plans to create stipends for students.

As far as reaching out to area youth is concerned, LDH is already making strides.

Brown said, “We are working collectively with two high schools to increase the knowledge of what those careers and fields look like.”

According to Brown, the only way to improve local health outcomes is to first tackle the issue of diversity.