The primary goal of this project is to increase the probability that students at high schools in four Native American communities will pursue undergraduate and graduate training in biomedical sciences and medicine at leading institutions. Teams of 10 students and two teacher-chaperones, selected by each of the four participating Native communities, attend a three-week Native American High School Summer Program at Harvard University that examines abuse of alcohol and cocaine or methamphetamine through lectures conference sections and small-group tutorials, after which the students produce a presentation for their home communities. This project will improve the understanding of these teams about the neuroscience and clinical psychology of drug abuse and alcoholism, making them more interested and more effective in helping to reduce this serious problem in their communities. At the same time expectations will be raised for the students their teachers, parents, and communities with respect to undergraduate and graduate professional training.
This Phase II application is a continuation of a 3-year Phase I SEPA entitled “Opening the Pipeline for Native High Schools.” The major broad long-term goal from the outset has been to increase the probability that students at high schools in four Native communities will pursue undergraduate and graduate training in biomedical sciences and medicine at leading institutions. Teams of 10 students and two teacher-chaperones, picked by each of the four participating Native communities, attend the Native American High School Summer Program (NAHSSP) at Harvard for three summer weeks; two communities attending in June and two in July.
The academic subject has been abuse of alcohol and cocaine or methamphetamine. Lectures conference sections on basic neuroscience and the lecture material and stepwise consideration of a multi-part case of multiple substance abuse discussed in small-group tutorials were the major curricular elements. During the third week the students produced a project for presentation in their home communities.
The health relatedness of the project includes raising the educational expectations of the students, teachers, parents and communities; raising the understanding of students and teachers about the basic science and psychology of substance abuse and its consequences (an important issue in each community); and encouraging the students and teachers to be active in facilitating community change [substance abuse is not “normal”]. In the 03 summer (2007), a new highly successful case that described a teenage substance-dependent Fort Peck resident was written collaboratively by teams from Fort Peck and Harvard Medical School.
The specific aims of this application are dissemination activities including:
- Aiding all four communities (the Fort Peck Reservation; the Hopi Reservation; a Native Hawaiian group, and two Wampanoag communities on Cape Cod) to write medical cases that reflect their local contexts;
- Encouraging the students to present these projects to various target groups at home;
- Developing a website at Harvard Medical School that will post the curricular materials describe the best practices of NAHSSP and host an interactive site for sharing information; and
- Hosting a symposium at Harvard of representatives of other Native communities and educational institutions to share needs and experiences.
A goal of the dissemination activities is the formation of new community/university partnerships that will take useful elements of NAHSSP to build their own programs. Another aim is to develop more rigorous evaluation procedures appropriate for use in Native communities.
This SEPA Phase II project (2 R25 RR020406-04) will improve the understanding of teams of Native high school students and high school teachers in four Native communities about the neuroscience and clinical psychology of drug abuse and alcoholism. These understandings will make the teams more interested and more effective in helping to reduce this serious problem. At the same time the expectations of the students their teachers parents and communities with respect to undergraduate and graduate professional trainings will rise.