May 21, 2019

Scholarship program diversifies the health care workforce

Diverse recipients reflect communities served by area health care systems.

The 2019 recipients of Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s Health Care Career Scholarships gathered to celebrate their achievements.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest has awarded more than a half million dollars ($549,000) in college scholarships to 173 diverse high school and college students in Oregon and Washington through its Health Care Career Scholarship Program. The program is part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to improve community health by increasing access to educational opportunity and developing a health care workforce that mirrors the communities it serves. This year’s investment brings the total scholarships awarded since the program’s inaugural year in 2009 to more than $4 million.

Scholarships were awarded in amounts of $2,000, $5,000, or $10,000 to 148 high school seniors from public high schools in Kaiser Permanente Northwest’s service area, which spans from Longview, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon. In addition, 25 scholarships were awarded to continuing Kaiser Permanente Scholars, rising college juniors attending a range of higher education institutions who had originally received the scholarships as high school seniors.

Scholarship recipients receive more than financial assistance. Kaiser Permanente also connects recipients with professional development and career learning opportunities throughout college, such as free resume and interview workshops, paid internships, and volunteering opportunities to support their persistence to degree completion and readiness to enter the health care field.

“We are passionate about making health care equitable — it should be accessible and affordable for everyone, no matter their circumstances,” said Ruth Williams-Brinkley, regional president for Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest. “A person’s language, race, or ethnicity shouldn’t be a barrier to good care, but studies show us that patients respond better when they share these characteristics with their providers. By creating a more diverse workforce, we can take a big step toward helping everyone in our communities live their longest, healthiest lives.”

Diverse scholarship recipients will improve quality of health care

Three-quarters of scholarship recipients hail from diverse backgrounds, reflecting the region’s diversity across race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and abilities. Recipients stand to play a critical role in providing culturally responsive care and creating a vital future for themselves and their communities.

Kaiser Permanente Scholars and Outstanding Educator to be recognized at celebration 

Recipients were honored at a reception and ceremony at the OHSU Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland on Saturday, May 11, 2019. The event featured a career fair; a keynote address from Lindia Willies-Jacobo, MD, associate dean of admissions at Kaiser Permanente Medical School; and special master of ceremonies, Imelda Dacones, MD, president and CEO of Northwest Permanente. Keri Pilgrim Ricker, leader of the Health Services Pathway program at Churchill High School, was presented with an Outstanding Educator award and a $5,000 donation to the school for her role in facilitating student success for the past 11 years.  

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 12.3 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health.


Debbie Karman