Black women account for less than 3% of all U.S. doctors, even though Black people make up 13% of the U.S. population. While the reasons that contribute to this low percentage necessitate a broader conversation on systemic racism in medicine, one leading cause is that Black students interested in pursuing careers in healthcare generally have more barriers to overcome to enter and stay in the field, like less access to wealth, housing, education, and healthcare, which can then be followed by instances of racism and systemic bias in both training and the workplace. To help alleviate some of the obstacles Black students face in pursuing these careers, Tampax launched the Flow It Scholarship program as part of its larger Flow it Forward project, in partnership with P&G’s #TakeOnRace Fund, which aims to end the misinformation surrounding health and period care and promote equal representation and access to medical resources. Through UNCF (United Negro College Fund) and their 37 partner HBCU schools, Tampax will provide $200,000 annual assistance every year for 4 years to support the next generation of Black students in medicine.
“The last year has been unlike any other, and unprecedented events like a global pandemic and racial unrest have not only elevated awareness of the racial disparities that exist in healthcare, but they have also made pursuing degrees even more difficult for Black women,” says Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO. “The Flow It Forward scholarship combines Tampax and UNCF’s shared commitment to investing in education, thus making a step to reducing racial disparities and increase Black representation among healthcare professionals. We agree that ‘A mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in,’ and we are happy to partner with Tampax on this four-year scholarship program.”
Research has shown that disparities can start in early childhood education with a lack of resources and funding, where students can have less access and exposure to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) training. Fast forward to higher education, some healthcare programs require traditional four-year degrees instead of community or junior college degrees, which may inadvertently create structural barriers for Black candidates. Beyond the Flow It Forward Scholarship, the Tampax Flow it Forward project supports various organizations fighting to accelerate change for Black Americans facing racism. Part of reducing healthcare disparities includes investing in education today to help increase the number of Black physicians and healthcare workers in the future.
“Increasing the presence of Black people in the healthcare field is an issue that will take time. For years we [Tampax] have been committed to supporting various organizations and individuals to end stigmas surrounding health and period care,” says Camille Zahniser, Senior Brand Director of North America Tampax.“Supporting and trusting UNCF’s incredible experience and expertise in funding education at HBCUs will help further our mission to positively shift the healthcare industry to one of equal representation.”
Equal representation in healthcare has measurable benefits for healthcare professionals and the communities they serve, including increased comfort levels, communication, and trust. When these elements exist, it leads to safer, healthier, and stronger communities as patients are more trusting in their doctors and pursuing preventative care.
“The amount of Black women practicing medicine today is small but very impactful when it comes encouraging the Black community to prioritize their health,” says Dr. Andrea Alexander,MD, FACOG. “Seeing a doctor who looked like me and the desire to help my community were the main reasons I wanted to go into medicine, but scholarships are what helped ensure I was able to pursue my degree. As an HBCU alumnus working with Tampax and UNCF, it is a full-circle moment that will allow me to help the next generation of Black women in healthcare coming behind me and leave a long-lasting impact on the industry.”
Each year’s Flow it Forward Scholarship funds will be awarded through a nomination process for rising juniors and seniors within the Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) Medical School Prep Program and other HBCU healthcare programs in the UNCF network. So far in this year’s application cycle, Tampax is proud to announce there are 9 Tampax XULA Carmichael Scholars, and more scholarship recipients to come. Addressing the disparities in health care and period education will take time. But, Tampax is dedicated to supporting various organizations and individuals, in addition to UNCF and the scholarship recipients, to continue to help flow change forward in a meaningful way. For more information, visit https://tampax.com/en-us/flow-forward.