Knowledge of both behavioral and social influences on health is essential to understanding and eliminating minority health disparities. Increasingly, social work and nursing researchers, as behavioral scientists, are contributing to knowledge on health disparities among underrepresented racial and ethnic populations. However, the number of persons from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups holding social work and nursing PhD degrees and conducting health disparities research remains relatively small. To enhance the pool of individuals from underrepresented groups (e.g. Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, Asians/Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Alaskan Natives) earning doctorates in behavioral sciences and health-related fields, we propose to develop new partnerships with two institutions (Eastern Michigan University and California State University-Los Angeles, a Hispanic-Serving Institution) granting terminal master's social work and nursing degrees. The overall goal of this 3-year UM Social Work/Nursing Bridges to the Doctorate Program is to provide 12 students from selected underrepresented populations in terminal masters'social work and nursing degree programs with academic preparation and skills that will facilitate transition and eventual successful completion of Ph.D. degrees emphasizing behavioral sciences and health disparities research. Specifically, we aim to recruit and enroll six students (3 students from each partner institution) in year 1;recruit and enroll six additional students (3 students from each partner institution) in year 2;establish a Summer Research Program, in-residence at the University of Michigan, with 100% participation of Bridges students;graduate 100% of enrolled Bridges students from their respective master's programs;submit PhD applications from at least 80% (n=10) of graduating Bridges master's students;enroll at least 75% (n=9) of Bridges students into a nursing or social work PhD program;and track Bridges students for 10 years post-master's degree. Successful implementation of this Bridges program will enhance the goal of the NIGMS to increase the number of students from populations disproportionately affected by health disparities who successfully complete the PhD in behavioral sciences.
Health disparities remain a serious national public health concern. The gravity of the problem of persistent health disparities is compounded by the low number of trained behavioral scientists from underrepresented minority populations that are disproportionately affected by health disparities and hold Ph.D. degrees. The overall goal of the University of Michigan Social Work/Nursing Bridges to the Doctorate Program is to increase the number of trained behavioral scientists holding Ph.D. degrees and conducting health disparities research.