DEC. 9, 2004 | The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ (UAMS) chapter of the Student National Medical Association (SNMA) recently received funds to sponsor a series of weekend sessions in January 2005 intended to introduce high school students to careers in health care.
The Arkansas Minority Health Commission awarded $5,000 to the UAMS group to sponsor the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program (HPREP), a series of enrichment programs targeting ninth, tenth and eleventh grade students from underrepresented minority groups. During the eight Saturday sessions, students from some central
Billy Thomas, M.D., M.P.H., associate dean for diversity affairs in the UAMS College of Medicine said the Office of Minority Affairs – now the Center for Diversity Affairs – developed a recruitment outreach to minority students on a smaller scale in the past. The Minority Health Commission sponsorship allows an expansion of that effort to include participation from other colleges as well as a chance to reach more students. In addition, the series will bring those students to the campus to allow for a more immersive experience, he said.
“Creation of the Health Professions Recruitment and Exposure Program offers UAMS another avenue for recruiting minority students as well as those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds,” Thomas said. “We appreciate the support of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission in recognizing and helping us work to develop health care workers who reflect the diverse populations in
About 25 students will be invited to the sessions. Thomas said the sessions will provide an important opportunity to introduce the students to the health care field, with the hope that some of the students could eventually attend UAMS.
“We think this program at UAMS is critical to our goals of increasing the number of minorities in the health care field,” said Judy Smith, director of the Arkansas Minority Health Commission. “The weekend sessions will give these students the information they need to develop career goals for the future. This project will also give the students the opportunity to actually meet minority health care professionals. We want them to get excited about the possibilities that exist for them.”
The students at the sessions also will attend workshops on study skills, learn about the college application and financial aid process and receive information on health matters unique to the minority and/or economically disadvantaged communities.
Interested students will complete an application for selection to the program. The application criteria will consist of demographic information, education background, grade point average and the student’s academic interest. The students also will provide a letter of recommendation from a math or science teacher and an official copy of their transcript.
Thomas said the program specifically targets African-American, Hispanic American and Native American students in the ninth, 10th and 11th grades.
“By interacting with minority health care professionals, these youths will develop vital role models and benefit from interactions seldom experienced by most minority high school students,” Thomas said. “One specific aim is to not only encourage but also enable students to overcome the many academic challenges that may deter their entrance into the health care professions.”
Counseling by minority health care professional students is intended to help the students avoid the academic pitfalls suffered by many talented students during their college years. HPREP strives to motivate students to perform at their maximum capability in order to achieve success in the scientific arena, he said.
Thomas said the SNMA hopes to continue expanding the program in the future to more schools in the state.
Links on This Page
Arkansas Minority Health Commission: http://www.arminorityhealth.com/
Student National Medical Association: http://www.snma.org/UAMS Office of Minority Affairs: http://www.uamsoma.org/index.php