Improving racial and ethnic diversity in the healthcare workforce is widely considered to be a key strategy to combat well documented racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes - inequities laid bare most recently by the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased diversity in the health professions is associated with higher satisfaction among racial and ethnic minority patients who receive treatment from URMs and there is some evidence of even improved health outcomes. The presence of URM faculty fosters greater satisfaction with the learning environment by URM students. An investment in a diverse talent pipeline for the future is therefore mission critical and aligns with the University’s goals in the recently published, “Roadmap for Anti-Racism in Healthcare and Health Education”.
Columbia University has several very successful national healthcare pipeline programs (i.e. Summer Health Profession Education Program and Summer Health Public Scholars Program) however there is a scarcity of programs that exist for high school students within our local Washington Heights/Harlem/South Bronx community. Students from these communities face additional challenges going to college such as living in a low-income household and attending underserved, low performing schools. The goal of this program is to expose students within our local community to a career in the health professions and contribute to diversifying our healthcare system. The objective of the proposed program is to provide an immersive introduction to careers in healthcare to rising junior students.
The goal is to recruit 20 participants from 10 high schools in the neighborhood surrounding the medical center that are part of Columbia’s Double Discovery Center. The grantees will host a 6-week summer program from July - August 2022, for rising junior high school students. By understanding the range of careers in health care during the process of meeting face to face with representatives from various health professions and by being introduced to what happens day to day in health care, the grantees hope to inspire students to pursue a career in the health professions.
This project was funded through the Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.