Institutions of higher education have not been as successful as desired at attracting, enrolling, and graduating students from underrepresented minority (URM) groups. Whites receive a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences 2.6 times more often than do minorities, and receive a master's degree in the health professions 4.2 times more often than minorities. In Arkansas, the average percentage of African American undergraduate students on campus is 18.7% (the national enrollment rate for African American students is 36.2%) compared to 73.9% for non-Hispanic Whites. UAMS has increased its minority recruitment efforts, with strong support from the Graduate School and the Arkansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program, leading to an over 200% increase in URM student applications to UAMS biomedical sciences Ph.D. programs since 2002;however, UAMS'current URM enrollment rate of 6.1% still trails the biological sciences national average of 8.2%. To address this shortfall, UAMS proposes to implement an Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity Program, with an overall goal of exceeding the 8.2% national average of URM students in the biological sciences, with 90% of the URM students continuing through to graduation. To do this, UAMS has defined three broad goals. The first goal is a 50% increase in the number of URM students who apply to doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences over 4 years. The IMSD program will provide undergraduate summer research opportunities for URM students identified as potential candidates for doctoral programs in the biomedical sciences and establish a distance recruiting pilot program to interact with undergraduates and target schools. Goal 2 is to develop a transition program for matriculated UAMS IMSD Program doctoral students. Initiatives will include a mentorship program with a 10-week summer research project and a 6-week summer course that covers various topics in biochemistry and life skills. The final goal is to retain and graduate 90% of the students in the UAMS IMSD Program. This will be accomplished using mentorship programs, a seminar series featuring nationally recognized URM scientists as role models, monitoring of student's academic progress, tutoring by graduate students, learning assistance services for IMSD students having academic difficulty, portfolio development, and incorporation of group learning into the Biochemistry course. The initiatives proposed in this plan will increase the recruitment, retention, and graduation of URM students in the basic sciences graduate programs. Many of the initiatives can be applied to other UAMS colleges and therefore will have a global effect on the university and contribute to the overall recruitment, retention, and graduation of all URM students at UAMS. Ultimately, this change will help increase the numbers of URM faculty, investigators, and students in the biomedical sciences and broaden the opportunities for their participation in biomedical and behavioral research, thereby better serving Arkansas and the nation Public health relevance: Arkansas is primarily a rural state with a growing number of individuals living at or below the poverty level with limited access to health care (uninsured or underinsured). The state's poor, many of whom are members of minority groups, face health care disparities that can be reduced through health care workforce diversity. Diversity among biomedical sciences students and faculty, which the proposed initiatives will help achieve, is indispensable and will result in improved quality of medical education, improved access to health care for underserved populations, and accelerated advances in medical and public health research, resulting in a reduction in health care disparities and improved public health.
Arkansas is primarily a rural state with a growing number of individuals living at or below the poverty level with limited access to health care (uninsured or underinsured). The state's poor, many of whom are members of minority groups, face health care disparities that can be reduced through health care workforce diversity. Diversity among biomedical sciences students and faculty, which the proposed initiatives will help achieve, is indispensable and will result in improved quality of medical education, improved access to health care for underserved populations, and accelerated advances in medical and public health research, resulting in a reduction in health care disparities and improved public health.
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