Mentoring Future Health Professionals

$3.2 million grant will go to mentoring tomorrow’s doctors, dentists and pharmacists

The U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration has awarded a five-year, $3.2 million grant to the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine to prepare students from educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds for health professional careers. The UMKC schools of Dentistry and Pharmacy also are partners on this initiative.

The grant will go to expand summer programs for high school and college students, and it will go to a mentorship program for UMKC undergraduate and graduate students who are pursuing health professional degrees.

“Historically, students from educationally or economically disadvantaged backgrounds experience greater challenges with regards to persisting in college and entering health care fields,” said Alice Arredondo, director of UMKC admissions and co-investigator on the grant along with Nate Thomas, associate dean of diversity and inclusion at the school.

“This grant will allow us to support students in overcoming academic, economic and social barriers, while having an impact on the diversity in our educational environment and the success of disadvantaged students in the UMKC health sciences. By providing students early access to hands-on programming and mentoring, we hope to prepare students to achieve success in college and, eventually, graduate or professional school and the workforce.”

The grant funding begins Sept. 1. Each year, 32 to 36 students — including UMKC undergraduates — will be mentored by faculty members, practitioners and other students. The first summer program will be in 2019, expanding the program from two to six weeks. These are part of the Students in Training, in Academia, Health and Research (STAHR) Partnership.

“This partnership will allow us to help students develop academically, psychosocially, professionally and as leaders who can have a positive impact on the workforce and their communities,” Thomas said.

The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies — a partner in an innovative educational team approach called interprofessional education with the UMKC schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Pharmacy — offers similar federal-grant funded programming for high school and college students. One includes KC HealthTracks, offering mentorship and programs for more than a dozen area high schools.