There have been several attempts to define the people of Appalachia as a minority group based on cultural, social and economic factors. The Appalachia Regional Commission defined this population as a minority group in 2004. Since its inception, the UK College of Medicine has worked to address the critical medical needs of one of the nation’s most underserved groups, the people of Appalachia.
In order to address the health care needs of this region, more Appalachians should be represented in medical school classes and among medical school faculty. The UK College of Medicine considers itself unique in the inclusion of students, staff and faculty from this underrepresented minority. More importantly, the College fosters cultural sensitivity for this minority population through its educational training of medical students, house staff and faculty. The well being and medical treatment of this unique population is critical.
National initiatives exist to establish Appalachian populations as a group experiencing health disparities and to be identified for program and funding initiatives through the National Institutes of Health National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office on Minority Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office on Minority Health and state offices of minority health in the Appalachian geographic areas.