Achieving Healthy People 2020 goals depends on a competent, creative workforce;research achievements in basic, clinical and translational science;increased understanding, participation, and support of research by the general public;and improved delivery and utilization of health care. Eliminating persistent health disparities requires targeted, culturally appropriate interventions and a diverse workforce. Preparing tomorrow's health care leaders and increasing understanding of health and science by the public both depend on the success of the nation's schools in improving the performance of all students, including minority and low-income students. Meharry Medical College has been a leading producer of disadvantaged minority health professionals, graduating 21% of all practicing African American physicians and dentists as well as 15% of the African American Ph.D.s in the biomedical sciences. The Meharry Health Sciences Leadership Academy will bring the expertise and resources of Meharry into partnership with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) to increase the entry of minority and underrepresented high school students into health professions, strengthen secondary school teaching of health sciences, and enhance the understanding of health and health research in the schools and surrounding community.
The specific aims are designed to address entry into (Aim 1) and progression through (Aims 2-4) the new Health Sciences Career Academy curriculum being implemented in 4 MNPS high schools.
Specific Aim 1 : Create a "Healthy People Challenge" event for 9th grade students that will present them with a case study that encompasses elements across the basic science, clinical, translational and health policy spectrum. Students will collaborate to develop innovative proposals to address issues raised by the case while exploring a broad range of health careers.
Specific Aim 2 : Design and implement a Summer Workshop for Health Sciences Career Academy Teaching Teams (English, Math, Science, and Health Sciences teachers) that will increase their understanding of specific diseases, biomedical research, health careers, and health policy, emphasize the interdisciplinary and cooperative aspects of both research and the teaching teams, and assist the teachers in developing innovative content to increase motivation and competency of their students;
Specific Aim 3 : Develop collaborative Community Health Awareness and Screening Events that will allow health career students to demonstrate their competencies alongside Meharry medical students and practicing physicians while providing the students'communities with health screenings, health education, and information on health research;4) Top-to-Bottom: Media Workshop exploring health occupations will bring health sciences and media students to the Meharry campus for three weeks in the summer under the direction of a media teacher to create audio and video materials to support the other three projects. These will include profiles of individuals in a variety of health professions, featuring the experiences of Meharry's diverse workforce.
The Meharry Health Careers Leadership Academy was formed in partnership with the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools to enhance the secondary school Health Sciences Career program, to increase the number and diversity of students progressing to post-secondary training, and to raise awareness and understanding of the role of research in meeting health care challenges. Ninth grade students will test their ingenuity in developing solutions for real world health problems while 10th -12th grade students will gain confidence and experience working alongside Meharry physicians, dentists, researchers and students to provide health education and screening in their own communities. Teaching teams from the Health Career Academies will work with Meharry faculty on strategies to better integrate lessons across disciplines, meet the educational needs of underrepresented minorities, and incorporate the most up-to-date health research and practice information. Supporting materials, including video profiles of the diverse workforce at Meharry Medical College, will be developed by students and teachers in an annual media workshop.