CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The health care industry is changing. That change not only brings increased access to insurance to populations never covered before, but also a greater need for a qualified, diverse workforce to deliver that care.

To address this need for more inclusion in the health care setting, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, in collaboration with the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), is offering a $5,000 college scholarship to three Tennessee minority students.

According to BlueCross’ Health Institute’s white paper on health care reform and its impacts on minority populations in Tennessee, major findings suggest that African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians as well as other Pacific Islanders remain underrepresented in medicine relative to their numbers in the U.S. population and populations in specific states, regions and localities.

In addition, the Association of American Medical Colleges reported in a 2010 study thatin Tennessee, out of a total of 411 graduates from medical school, 254 were white (62%), 97 were Black (24%), six were Hispanic (1.4%), two were American Indian or Alaska Native (0.4 %), 42 were Asian (10%), one was other non-Hispanic or Latino race (0. 2%) and nine were self-identified as foreign (2%).

“Our scholarship provides a much-needed resource for deserving minority students to access higher education,” said Ron Harris, director of workforce diversity for BlueCross. “In addition to serving as a motivator for minorities to graduate college, the program also provides the means to help break the poverty and health care disparity cycle.”

The scholarships, in recognition of outstanding achievements in community service, leadership and academics, are given to undergraduate students who wish to pursue careers in the health care field.

For more information, including FAQs and the application, go to www.bcbst.com/about/diversity.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.