As the number of minorities in the population continues to increase, the health disparities and health care needs for these groups will likely continue and intensify. Underrepresented minority health care providers should reflect the percentages of those groups in the U.S. population because they are more likely to work in underserved and minority communities, thus highlighting the urgency to recruit and retain a diverse health-care workforce. Programs are needed at multiple levels of the educational pipeline to engage youth in pursuing science and health-related professions. The ultimate goal of this program is to increase the number of underrepresented, minority and disadvantaged youth committed to a career in the biomedical, behavioral, or clinical science. The immediate goal is to promote and nurture interest in education, science, medicine and health among young people from diverse communities in an exciting, committed, supportive environment through mentorship and scholarly pursuit. In order to provide such key mentoring and educational opportunities for youth interested in science and increase the number of youth entered in the pipeline, we began the UCSF Department of Pediatrics High School Student Summer Internship Program in Biomedical and Health Sciences. We now propose to continue and expand this summer internship program for entering junior and senior high school students. Priority is given to recruiting and accepting talented students from populations less represented in the biomedical and health sciences, including women, students of color, and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Specific aims of the program are to: 1) Provide students with interest in science the opportunity for hands-on exposure to scientific research, and to connect students with mentors who will assist them in their pursuit of scientific scholarship. In so doing, we are specifically targeting academically motivated and talented youth from minority and low-income families. Interns will be exposed to various scientific disciplines ranging from physical, life, biological, and social sciences. 2) Help improve applications for successful college admission among youth who might otherwise have more limited educational choices. College admission committees are not only reviewing and selecting applicants based on their grades and test scores, increasing weight is now put on the high school student's entire profile, including motivation, real-world experience, community involvement, and leadership promise. 3) Increase students'knowledge of health and health-related professions, including prevention, treatment, and self-management of disease. During the ten-week program, students will be placed with a research group or laboratory, where they will have the opportunity to interact with and be mentored by various researchers including graduate and medical students, post-doctoral fellows, and/or faculty members, and will be assigned a designated research project to work on. Students will attend seminars on various topics related to professions in science and will also tour different laboratories and facilities at UCSF and other universities to gain additional exposure to science learning and educational environments. At the end of the summer, students will present their research during an evening reception.
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