Health Careers Program Receives Grant

Contact: Amy Gilliam

 

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HCOP includes development of activities to build diversity in health professions, addresses identified risk factors for school failure, and explores ways to narrow achievement gaps and assure students in the program remain in the educational pipeline. Students in the program may come from ethnically, geographically, and/or economically underserved backgrounds.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2004) -- The University of Kentucky Area Health Education Center (AHEC) recently was awarded a federal grant totaling over $1 million for its Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP) to increase the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented students pursuing education for careers in the health professions. The grant will be administered over the next three years.

Twelve rural and underserved counties in Eastern Kentucky and two urban counties with large Hispanic and African-American populations will receive the support.

“This was a very ambitious proposal,” said James C. Norton, UK AHEC/HETC program administrator. “There were approximately 120 proposals submitted, and our proposal was one of about 25 funded.”

The funds will enable UK to expand existing programs of pre-professional preparation, broaden services for students with economic and academic disadvantages, and implement innovative programs to stimulate and encourage students to enter health professions. Through strong partnerships with schools and communities that serve large numbers of disadvantaged and underrepresented students, this program will encourage students who have limited access to opportunities to advance through the educational pipeline leading to health careers.

HCOP includes development of activities to build diversity in health professions, addresses identified risk factors for school failure, and explores ways to narrow achievement gaps and assure students in the program remain in the educational pipeline. Students in the program may come from ethnically, geographically, and/or economically underserved backgrounds.

“HCOP is a very collaborative effort with the public school system,” Norton said. “Without the support of the schools, programs such as HCOP would not be possible.”

HCOP is a longitudinal model, nurturing students from middle school through college and eventually into their health professions. Selected students will participate in a variety of carefully planned activities throughout the year, including regional Saturday Academies to build science and math skills and summer science and math camps . In addition, a Health Researchers Youth Academy will be offered on the UK campus to those identified as particularly promising students. The Health Researchers Youth Academy is one of several HCOP opportunities for young adults. Approximately 40 your adults from Eastern Kentucky will have the opportunity to work with university faculty to develop research projects. They will work with a small team of their peers led by a designated faculty mentor/teacher and learn a great deal about research methodology.

“We hope to get these young people very exited about the interface of sciences and research,” said Mae Marie Quan, UK associate AHEC program administrator.

The funds of HCOP allow these students from underserved populations to stay at UK free of charge for one week during the summer. The students will work in teams with some of the university’s leading researchers. HCOP will provide opportunities for students to communicate with one another in between program experiences through list serves.

“This particular approach of making the AHEC program the vehicle of HCOP administrative support and implementation is innovative from a federal view and is very consistent with UK President Lee Todd’s view of collaborative efforts within UK,” Norton said. “It creates a nice synergy – making a positive, community oriented program for the Commonwealth.”

The initiative includes the UK colleges of Health Sciences, Dentistry, Medicine and Pharmacy; four regional centers that form part of the UK AHEC program; community partnerships; and commitment from local school districts. Activities focusing on cultural competence will be integrated at all program levels as development of program objectives.


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