Addressing Health Disparities with School-Based Outreach: the Health Career Academy Program
Pipeline programs address health disparities by promoting academic achievement and entry of low-income ethnic and racial minority youth into healthcare fields. The Health Career Academy (HCA) is a 3-year pipeline program for high school students from low-income, ethnic, and racial minority communities. Health professional students serve as program mentors. The HCA has been implemented in nine US sites, with partnerships between 17 health professional schools and 17 high schools. A total of 386 10th grade students and 95 11th grade students enrolled as participants in the 2015–2016 HCA program. In post-participation surveys, 10th grade students reported that the HCA helped them learn about different healthcare career options, plan for how to reach career goals, and understand how healthcare workers care for patients. Eleventh grade participants noted the program made them aware of the importance of public health and taught them about medical conditions, self-care, and safety. Eighty-six percent of 10th graders and 71% of 11th graders reported that they are considering healthcare careers. Students’ favorite aspects of the HCA included the following: time with mentors, learning about science and health, team collaboration and hands-on experiences, field trips, and team presentations. Teachers noted the following as most important in the program: interaction with mentors and healthcare professionals, learning broadly applicable skills, stimulation of interest in health-related careers, presentation skills, and creating optimism about furthering education. The HCA is well received by participants and can be replicated successfully at multiple sites nationally. By providing mentorship, increasing exposure to health professionals and health careers, offering high-level science and health curriculum, and fostering collaboration and presentation skills, the HCA has potential to increase interest in health professions among racial and ethnic minority youth from low-income communities.
KeywordsSchool health Pipeline program Health disparities Adolescent health Medical outreach
Thanks to Aetna’s Racial and Ethnic Equality Initiative for funding of the HCA. In particular, we would like to thank Wayne Rawlins, Michele Garand, and Dan Knecht for their support.
Thanks to Main Line Health individuals who have volunteered their time and energy to the HCA program, in particular Jeshaunton Essex, Debbie Mantegna, Maureen Krouse, and Chinwe Onyekere. Dianne Butera (Lewis Katz School of Medicine - Temple University), Elissa Goldberg (Drexel University College of Medicine), and Kathryn Trayes (Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University) were instrumental in regionalization of the Philadelphia program.
Additionally, we would like to thank the HCA faculty sponsors and health professional student volunteer mentors at Drexel College of Medicine, Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, Lewis Katz School of Medicine - Temple University, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Emory School of Medicine, Rollins School of Public Health, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, Emory's Physician Assistant Program, GA -Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, UTHealth McGovern Medical School, UTHealth School of Dentistry, Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, Duke School of Medicine, University of California Berkeley/San Francisco Joint Medical Program, Samuel Merritt University, USC Keck School of Medicine, Dell Medical School (initiated program 2016-17), and Harvard Medical School (initiated program 2016-17). This program is only possible because of their collective volunteer efforts.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
All surveys were reviewed by Main Line Hospitals Institutional Review Board and these anonymized surveys were granted exemption from IRB oversight under DHHS regulations as defined under 45 CFR 46.101(b)(1).
- 4.McFarland J, Stark P, Cui J. Trends in high school dropout and completion rates in the United States:2013 (NCES 2016–117). 2016. https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2016117rev Google Scholar
- 5.Anderson KM. How far have we come in reducing health disparities? Progress since 2000. Workshop Summary: National Academies Press; 2012. Available from https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13383/how-far-have-we-come-in-reducing-health-disparities-progress Google Scholar
- 6.Cutler DM, Lleras-Muney A. Education and health: evaluating theories and evidence. National Bureau of economic research; 2006. Available from http://www.econ.ucla.edu/alleras/research/books/Education_and_Health_July_2006.pdf
- 7.Labor force statistics from the Current Population Survey: Employed persons by detailed occupation, sex, race, and Hispanic or Latino ethnicity. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 2015. Available from: https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat11.htm.
- 11.Bradley BJ, Greene AC. Do health and education agencies in the United States share responsibility for academic achievement and health? A review of 25 years of evidence about the relationship of adolescents' academic achievement and health behaviors. J Adolesc Health. 2013;52(5):523–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 12.Corbin J, Strauss A. Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. In Basics of qualitative research. Vol. 15. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 1990.Google Scholar
- 25.Holden L, Rumala B, Carson P, Siegel E. Promoting careers in health care for urban youth: what students, parents and educators can teach us. Inf Serv Use. 2014;34(3–4):355–66. http://content.iospress.com/articles/information-services-and-use/isu761 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 28.Ekstrom R, Goertz M, Pollack J, Rock D. Who drops out of high school and why? Findings from a national study. Teac Coll Rec. 1986;87(3):356–73.Google Scholar
- 29.Rumberger R, Lim SA. Why students drop out of school: A review of 25 years of research. Santa Barbara, CA: California Dropout Research Project. http://cdrp.ucsb.edu/dropouts/pubs_reports.htm/; 2008.
- 30.Tyler J, Lofstrom M. Finishing high school: Alternative pathways and dropout recovery. America's High Schools. 2009;19(1). https://muse.jhu.edu/article/270369/summary.
- 31.Bridgeland JM, Dilulio JJ, Morison KB. The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. A report by Civic Enterprises in association with Robert D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.2006. https://docs.gatesfoundation.org/documents/thesilentepidemic3-06final.pdf
- 32.Stanley KR, Plucker JA. Improving high school graduation rates. Education Policy Brief. 6(7); Summer 2008. Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Indiana University. 2008.Google Scholar
- 33.American Association of Medical Colleges. Optimizing graduate medical education: A five-year road map for America’s medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems. 2015. Available from: https://www.aamc.org/download/425468/data/optimizinggmereport.pdf.
- 34.Why Urban Universities for HEALTH? [Internet]. 2017. Available from: http://urbanuniversitiesforhealth.org/vision/why.