Newswise — October, 24, 2017—(BRONX, NY)— Juan Robles, M.D., attending physician at Montefiore Health System and assistant professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has earned a $1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to support Bronx students pursuing healthcare careers and create a more inclusive workforce dedicated to underserved communities.

There is often a startling contrast between the cultural and ethnic backgrounds of healthcare providers and the people they treat. For example, only one in 15 doctors is African-American, although African Americans are one-eighth of the U.S. population. One in 20 doctors are Hispanic/Latino despite one in six Americans identifying as Hispanic/Latino. This is a major problem according to published research on disparities, which shows having more diverse healthcare providers enhances communication and trust with patients, strengthens medical research and is essential to addressing the health inequality that plagues our country.

Using this grant money, Dr. Robles will gain expertise in workforce development and expand the Bronx Community Health Leaders (BxCHL), a “pipeline” program he co-founded in 2014 with current Einstein medical student Julissa De La Cruz. The program offers volunteer positions to youth from communities underrepresented in healthcare professions. Working at Montefiore’s Family Health Center, the students learn about delivering primary care to underserved people and gain hands-on experience helping patients navigate the healthcare system.

“This program is a bridge for students to reach their potential, cultivating a workforce that reflects the communities we serve,” says Dr. Robles. “When we invest in motivated young people who support our community – our clinics, our patients and our neighborhoods thrive. I am honored to be a part of that journey for these students as they become the next generation of homegrown healthcare leaders.”

Dr. Robles moved from Honduras to the Bronx when he was 13 years old. He did not speak a word of English at the time. He credits volunteering as a translator for Spanish-speaking patients at the Einstein Community Health Outreach (ECHO) clinic, the first student-coordinated clinic in New York State, with giving him the skills and confidence to apply to medical school. 

“We are proud to have Dr. Robles, a success story himself, working in our practices and increasing opportunities for promising students to enter the field of medicine,” says Peter A. Selwyn, M.D., M.P.H., professor and chair of family and social medicine at Einstein.

To date, 16 BxCHL students have enrolled in medical schools around the country, including Einstein, Weill Cornell Medical College, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and New York Medical College. Earlier this year, BxCHL students presented research on the program at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine Annual Spring Conference in San Diego. Their work will also be presented in several national forums including the upcoming 2017 Family Medicine Education Consortium (FMEC), Ohio, and the National Caucus on Arthritis & Musculoskeletal Health Disparities in Washington D.C.

About Montefiore Health System

Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 11 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and close to 200 outpatient care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.

 About Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2016-2017 academic year, Einstein is home to 717 M.D. students, 166 Ph.D. students, 103 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 278 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,900 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2016, Einstein received more than $160 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States through Montefiore and an affiliation network involving hospitals and medical centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island. For more information, please visit, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube.