The University of Cincinnati (UC) Academic Health Center is working to develop an educational pipeline program with an important end goal in mind: creating a more diverse health care workforce.
Results of nearly a year’s worth of work and research on the UC Academic Health Center Pipeline Project were presented last week at two town hall sessions.
Led by principal investigator Greer Glazer, PhD, College of Nursing dean, and co-principal investigator Elizabeth King, PhD, dean of the College of Allied Health Sciences, the project is supported by a grant from UC2019 and is aimed at creating a pathway of entry into UC’s health colleges by underrepresented student populations and improving retention and graduation rates of underrepresented students in health-related majors.
Tammy Mentzel, research associate in the College of Nursing, serves as project manager.
"The UC Academic Health Center has a commitment to look at student diversity because we need to diversify the health care workforce,” Glazer said to town hall attendees at the Nov. 21 session.
Glazer cited a 2002 Institute of Medicine report titled "Unequal Treatment,” which documented the direct link between a shortage of underrepresented health care providers and poorer health outcomes for diverse patients. And, she said, studies have shown that patients prefer to see health care providers of similar race and ethnicity to themselves.
"Demographics of our current health care workforce do not match the demographics of the Greater Cincinnati community,” Glazer said. "As a university with an academic health center, it is our obligation to find ways to develop a more diverse and culturally competent workforce.”
Glazer, King, Mentzel and nine others from UC’s colleges of allied health sciences, arts and sciences, business, medicine, nursing and pharmacy conducted a literature review and four interviews with universities they identified as following "best practices” with regard to educational pipeline programs. The team then held 20 focus groups with key stakeholders, including area high school teachers, guidance counselors and principals; parents; members of the professional community; and students from UC and Central State University, a historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio.
From those meetings, themes emerged that will guide the team through its implementation process.
"We learned that there are a number of things we will need to address as we work to create a pipeline program,” Glazer said. "We need to build the confidence of students at an early age, expose them early on to the possibility of a career in health care, educate parents about career opportunities for their children, engage entire communities around the topic, and build—and in some cases, rebuild—trust.”
To get started, the team plans to develop and implement several programs that require little to no funding, including:
• Providing opportunities for exposure to various health careers.
• Describing concrete pathways to health careers and educating about those possibilities.
• Solidifying in the minds of students and parents the value of education.
• Engaging communities and parents.
The group plans to start by partnering with one local primary school and one local high school to further develop plans and processes, and will use initial data and early program development in its applications for federal, state and local funding to support a long-term plan for educational pipeline development.
For more information or to get involved, contact Tammy Mentzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-558-5574.
To learn more about UC2019, visit http://www.uc.edu/2019.