July 10, 2017
Doing our part
Even as the United States becomes a more diverse nation, research shows that the composition of the health care and biomedical science workforce does not reflect this diversity—with racial and ethnic populations particularly underrepresented in the health professions. This lack of a diverse health care workforce has been shown to lead to variations in access to and quality of care, as well as to health care disparities for people of color.
Recognizing that greater diversity of the workforce can lead to improved, more culturally responsive health care, all of us with UI Health Care are continuing to do what we can to improve the diversity of our faculty, staff, and students. One of the keys to increasing diversity is through “pipeline programs.” These programs introduce underrepresented students to potential careers in health care, often at first through K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming, and then continue to nurture that interest through college and post-graduate education.
In the past year, more than a third of the students participating in UI Health Care STEM programs were from underrepresented groups. Working with current UI Carver College of Medicine students, the STEM participants have an opportunity to see how they could one day also have a career in the health care field.
Also, thanks to a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we are thrilled to be hosting for the first time the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP). Eighty underrepresented college students who have indicated an interest in the health professions are on campus for a six-week experience that will strengthen their academic proficiency and career development. Hosted by the Carver College of Medicine, and the colleges of Dentistry, Public Health, and Pharmacy, the program offers a variety of academic and career experiences.
In addition, five college graduates are participating in PREP@Iowa, a National Institute of General Medical Sciences-funded post-baccalaureate research education program for individuals who are traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. During the year-long program, PREP@Iowa scholars acquire requisite skills in the laboratory, conduct independent research, benefit from a GRE prep course and are introduced to graduate level coursework. PREP@Iowa “graduates” will be highly competitive applicants for top tier PhD and MD/PhD programs nationwide.
Pipeline programs like these have proven successful in providing needed experience and encouragement to students who may not have otherwise chosen to pursue biomedical research, medical, or other health care careers, thereby helping to increase the diversity of the workforce.
We know that UI Health Care is stronger because of the rich and varied backgrounds of our faculty, staff, and students, the patients we serve, and the science we pursue. We respect and value the perspectives that everyone brings, and are proud to do our part to help the health care and biomedical research workforce reflect a more diverse nation and provide excellent, more culturally responsive care.