As early as 1972, when the leaders of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) defined the issues they hoped to address as part of the Foundation’s commitment to social change in health care, there was an awareness of the need to provide a better path to success for disadvantaged young people interested in careers in medicine.
The statistics of the day illustrated the importance of the issue. In 1970, racial and ethnic minority groups constituted 16 percent of the United States population, but only 2.3 percent of the nation’s medical students and just 5.9 percent of all medical professionals, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.
In addition, the Foundation realized that in order to be effective, our nation’s health care workforce needed to reflect all of our communities and include people with a broad range of backgrounds and abilities.
Research has not only shown that minority physicians and dentists are more likely to treat medically underserved populations, some studies also show higher levels of patient satisfaction and better care when there is patient-physician race or ethnic concordance.
By 2003, RWJF pathway (pipeline) program guidelines were also expanded to include socioeconomically disadvantaged students.
In order to address the significant gap between the number of talented young people interested in medicine and the number who were actually able to find the mentoring, role models and support needed to develop careers, RWJF created a series of programs to open doors to a new generation of physicians, nurses, dentists and other health care professionals.
Starting with Undergraduates
RWJF’s first effort to nurture tomorrow’s medical professional was a $13 million project called thePre-professional Minority Programs initiative (1972–1994). The summer academic enrichment curriculum was designed to prepare promising minority college students to enter medical school. The program model included counseling, tutoring and specially tailored premedical courses.
It was followed by the Minority Medical Education Program, which would be the forerunner for the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program (SMDEP), a highly successful pathway program credited with generating the largest number of RWJF program alumni. Beginning with the summer class of 1989, and continuing to 2011, more than 20,000 students have participated in SMDEP. The program focus expanded to include dentistry training in 2005, in recognition of the link between low access to oral health services and underrepresentation of minority and disadvantaged students in dental schools. By 2012, RWJF had invested more than $67 million in the SMDEP initiative.
SMDEP provides a six-week program at 12 sites across the country, selecting 80 college freshmen and sophomores (per site). They receive rigorous enrichment courses, labs and preparation for exams and other entrance requirements for medical and dental school.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the Foundation continued to support young medical or nursing students and entry-level health care workers in a variety of ways, including:
▪ Ladders in Nursing Careers Program – In response to an extreme nursing shortage in New York City in 1988, RWJF created the Ladders program to support low income and minority
hospital and nursing home employees who wished to become nurses. The $5 million program was eventually expanded to include eight states.
▪ National Medical Fellowships – From 1990-1996, RWJF expanded its scholarship support for minority medical students with this $5 million project.
▪ The Health Professions Partnership Initiative – This $7 million, 1994-2008 initiative co-funded by the Kellogg Foundation, established partnerships among health professions schools, undergraduate colleges, K–12 school systems and community-based organizations to prepare students academically for medical school and other health professions schools.
▪ The Sullivan Alliance – Supported with $200,000, between 2007 and 2010, the Alliance was created to increase the number of minorities in the health professions by working with historically black medical colleges and other academic institutions. The project was funded by RWJF, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Kellogg Foundation. Project goal was to implement report recommendations offered by the Sullivan Commission and the Institute of Medicine.
▪ The Pipeline, Profession and Practice: Community-Based Dental Education Program (alsocalled the Dental Pipeline Program). Over nine years, (2001–2010), RWJF funded dental schools with $23 million in grants to increase access to dental care for underserved populations. The program accomplished its goals through community-based clinical education programs and increasing recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority dental students.
The California Endowment funded the California schools that participated in the program.
Originally posted 2016-04-30 03:21:50. Republished by Blog Post Promoter