The pipeline for individuals from underrepresented populations into careers in health disparities research needs to be expanded (Rosenstock, et al., 2008). As noted by Riegelman, """"""""it has become evident that undergraduates seek and appreciate public health approaches and public health courses"""""""" (2007, p. 237). This appreciation by undergraduates has not increased enrollments in graduate education related to health disparities enough to meet the growing need for health disparities researchers. Therefore, there is a need for the creation of """"""""pipeline programs"""""""" (ASPH, 2006, p. 20). The Drexel University School of Public Health's """"""""Opening the Doors for Diverse Populations to Health Disparities Research"""""""" Program (hereafter, Opening Doors program) is focused on addressing the barriers to health disparities science education that socially, economically, and environmentally disadvantaged groups experience. The program builds on the Drexel University School of Public Health's deep commitment to health disparities research, health and human rights, and diversity. The Opening Doors Program will enroll up to 10 undergraduate juniors and seniors, up to 12 graduate (doctoral and master's) students in public health programs, and up to 5 medical school students each year for five years. First priority in the selection process will be given to students from socially, economically, and environmentally disadvantaged groups. Undergraduate students who are selected for the program will participate in health disparities internships/research in the summer and take seminar (non-credit bearing) classes related to health disparities research. Graduate students who are selected for the program will participate in health disparities research experiences during the academic year. Medical schools students who are selected for the program will participate in mentored research/internship activities in the summer, be provided mentoring by health disparities experts who are medical doctors, and matriculate in specialized summer institutes designed to educate these students about public health including health disparities. All students will take part in professional development and ethical/responsible research seminars. All Internship/research sites will be housed within the Drexel University School of Public Health. The above described activities are designed to educate and engage students in health disparities research in preparation for careers in public health with an emphasis on health disparities and protecting underserved populations. This grant proposal is categorized under the Mentoring and Career Development Initiative research education program core area as noted in RFA-MD-11-004.
The public health profession including health disparities research has a developing workforce crisis due many factors (Beitsch, Brooks, Menachemi, &Libbey, 2006;Gebbie &Turnock, 2006;Rahn &Wartman, 2007;Rosenstock, et al., 2008;Zurn, Dal Poz, Stilwell, &Adams, 2004). These factors include the shortage of students in undergraduate and graduate public health programs needed to enter the health disparities research workforce (Rosenstock, et al., 2008;Riegelman, 2007), the lack of public health career preparation of students in public health undergraduate, graduate, and medical school programs;and the underutilization of pipeline training programs (ASPH, 2006). The Opening Doors program fills the need to produce more health disparities research professionals (especially those from socially, economically, and environmentally disadvantaged groups) which has the """"""""benefits of producing a culturally competent workforce, improving access to high-quality care for the medically underserved""""""""
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