A Healthier Wisconsin

Practitioners of Color Training and Internship Program

Expanding and diversifying the integrative health workforce, providing skills, training, and employment to practitioners of color

Full Project Name:Practitioners of Color Training and Internship ProgramPrimary Community Organization:CORE El CentroPrimary Academic Partner:Deborah Costakos, MD, MS, Ophthalmology and Visual SciencesAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
Project Duration:18 months

Project Description Narrative:

CORE El Centro has grown to become a trusted community resource near the south side of Milwaukee since 2002. They are dedicated to health equity and inclusion and serve primarily Latinx individuals (70%) and low-income populations. CORE believes that the future of effective healthcare will successfully integrate natural healing and wellness therapies into all medical treatment plans to address the underlying trauma and root causes of disease that too often remain unaddressed by our current healthcare system. Since the pandemic, medical practitioners have been experiencing burnout at higher rates than ever before. Patients struggle to access healthcare services, whether they have insurance or not, and many communities of color do not access primary care due to mistrust, lack of information, or fear of discrimination.

This project is focused on the natural health field, which has grown in its acceptance and integration into allopathic medicine in the U.S. CORE El Centro has a six-month wait list for low-income Latinx clients seeking access to therapeutic massage treatments to address PTSD, anxiety, depression, addiction, and other physical and mental health needs. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Labor Force Statistics indicates that 84% of employed massage therapists are women, and 70% are white. The International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, moreover, recently reported on racial disparities in therapists and patients in the field of massage therapy. CORE El Centro has experienced firsthand the dearth of practitioners of color and the drastic disparity in access to and utilization of holistic healthcare services in communities of color throughout Milwaukee. As the desire for integrative healing modalities has increased, access to this education remains limited for many underserved communities, creating inequitable access to job opportunities and wellness services for communities of color.

The project team will develop and pilot a holistic health training and internship program, creating a pipeline specifically for black, indigenous, and people of color to build the skills and experience to provide holistic health services in Milwaukee. The goal is to expand and diversify the integrative health workforce, providing skills, training, and employment to practitioners of color.

Community partners: Academy of Heath, CORE El Centro, MCW Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Recruited and trained six holistic healing practitioners
  • Developed partnership with Jewish Family Service to exchange workshop opportunities for students
  • Offered integrative health educational workshops on various topics

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350