Community-building to Promote Biomedical Health Careers

  • Abstract

    The health agenda for the United States depends on professionals educated in biomedical sciences. Disadvantaged rural students have decreased chances of entering these fields due to high drop-out rates lack of adult support and inadequate life and academic skills to gain entrance to and sustain college degrees. This proposal addresses the issue of increasing entry into science-based health careers by creating a community-based support system for students. The selected participants are educationally and materially disadvantaged students from three underrepresented rural populations: Native American students of Pine Ridge S.D. African-American and white students from Assumption Parish in Louisiana and Hispanic children of Eastern migrant farm workers. The project will involve adults from these areas and science and math teachers from the students’ high schools. The primary objectives are to: Enhance the student’s academic skills thus increasing college acceptance and retention in science majors Spark enthusiasm and inspire hope for a future health-related career Create a community network providing support for participants and others in the region Students with interest and aptitude with the adults experience an initial three-week summer residential program with a subsequent school year plan and a return trip to the project site the next year. The summer program focuses on academic preparation for students curriculum education for faculty and mentoring development for adults followed by field trips interactive experiences lectures and laboratory exercises exposing all to many science-based careers. Distance-learning and online community characterize the school-year plan encouraging student success leading to skills and strategies appropriate for college entrance. In the second summer a new cohort enters the initial phase; returning students act as peer advisers while developing specific career interests under the guidance of individual scientists or health care professionals. Evaluation includes qualitative and quantitative methods to assess baseline reading writing and math skills and post-program assessment as well as interest inventory and personality tests. All participants as well as program faculty and consultants will evaluate individual curricular elements and career experiences as they occur and participate in final program evaluation.