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The Health Equity Scholars Program: Innovation in the Leaky Pipeline
Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2017)
  • Carole C. Upshur, University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • Gonzalo Bacigalupe
  • Diedra M Wrighting, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Laura L Hayman, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Barbara Lewis, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Sylvia Mignon, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Megan Rokop, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Elizabeth Sweet, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Maria Idali Torres, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Paul Watanabe, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Cedric Woods, University of Massachusetts Boston
Despite attempts to increase enrollment of under-represented minorities (URMs: primarily Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American students) in health professional programs, limited progress has been made. Compelling reasons to rectify this situation include equity for URMs, better prepared health professionals when programs are diverse, better quality and access to health care for UMR populations, and the need for diverse talent to tackle difficult questions in health science and health care delivery. However, many students who initiate traditional “pipeline” programs designed to link URMs to professional schools in health professions and the sciences, do not complete them. In addition, program requirements often restrict entry to highly qualified students while not expanding opportunities for promising, but potentially less well-prepared candidates. The current study describes innovations in an undergraduate pipeline program, the Health Equity Scholars Program (HESP) designed to address barriers URMs experience in more traditional programs, and provides evaluative outcomes and qualitative feedback from participants. A primary outcome was timely college graduation. Eighty percent (80%) of participants, both transfer students and first time students, so far achieved this outcome, with 91% on track, compared to the campus average of 42% for all first time students and 58–67% for transfers. Grade point averages also improved (p = 0.056) after program participation. Graduates (94%) were working in health care/human services positions and three were in health-related graduate programs. Creating a more flexible program that admits a broader range of URMs has potential to expand the numbers of URM students interested and prepared to make a contribution to health equity research and clinical care.
Publication Date
Spring May 19, 2017
Citation Information
Upshur, C.C., Wrighting, D.M., Bacigalupe, G. et al. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2017). doi:10.1007/s40615-017-0376-7