Online Program

Developing a Diverse Healthcare Workforce to Address Health Inequalities

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Ramon Hernandez, MPH, DrPH candidate, Maternal Child Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Sandra Daley, M.D., Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA
Lourdes Rivera, M.S., Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego School of Medicine, La Jolla, CA
African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians together comprise less than 9% of nurses, 12% of physicians and 8% of dentists while they represent more than one-fourth of the US population. The lack of diversity among students choosing and being retained in the behavioral, clinical and biomedical sciences poses a challenge in the development of successful strategies for reducing health disparities, meeting the needs of the medically underserved and achieving the goals of Healthy People 2020.

Strategies aimed at diversifying the health professions “pipeline” have primarily focused on high school students and college juniors and seniors; yet, students from disadvantaged backgrounds overwhelmingly enter the post secondary education system through community colleges. Recognizing this diversity and potential, the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine developed the UniversityLink Medical Science Program (ULMSP) in 2001.

ULMSP is an academic enrichment program that prepares underserved and disadvantaged community college students to transfer to a four-year institution, to graduate with majors in the biomedical, behavioral and health sciences, and to compete successfully for entry into graduate and health professions schools. As of 2014, 156 students have completed the program; 98% of the students have transferred to a four-year university; 86% graduated from college; 85% have graduated with a degree in the sciences; and, 54% have entered a graduate program.

These outcomes demonstrate that a student development program that focuses on academic skills, mentoring, networking and understanding institutional culture can improve the rates of transfer, retention, graduation in the sciences, and entry into graduate and professional schools.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe the components of a successful pipeline program targeting underrepresented and disadvantaged community college students. Explain how a diverse healthcare workforce is integral to addressing health disparities. Discuss the capacity building efforts at the university level to recruit and retain community college students in the behavioral, clinical and biomedical sciences.

Keyword(s): Health Disparities/Inequities, Workforce Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over 20 years of experience working in the public health arena focussing on the implementation of youth development and academic enrichment programs for adolescents and young adults. I have a MPH in Health Administration and am a DrPH candidate in Maternal Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health.

Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.