Promoting Minority Access to Health Careers Through Health Profession-Public School Partnerships

A Review of the Literature

The authors performed a literature review to identify and evaluate successful strategies to form partnerships between public schools and universities in order to increase minority representation in health fields. They identified key differences in "partnership culture and process" that may interfere with the formation of successful partnerships: organizational/ structural differences, power dynamics, funding differences and other dissimilarities between public K-12 school systems and universities.

Key Findings:

  • Some partnership strategies to ensure mutual goals include parental support of the program, early intervention, strong leadership, clear assessment and evaluation, career exposure, and long-term financial and community support.
  • Particularly relevant for partnerships focusing on minority recruitment into health fields are remediation/enhancement of academic skills, particularly math, science, study skills,and test-taking; career awareness; mentoring between K-12 students and students/faculty/professionals in health fields; research apprenticeships; and rewards such as scholarships.
  • Completion of high school with rigorous preparation is the greatest need of groups underrepresented in health fields. Thus, long-term interventions are crucial to affecting "hard" academic measures and should ideally begin in elementary school.
  • Funding practices must be innovative; because of the high numbers of minority students enrolled in them, community colleges are an overlooked target for funding partnerships.

The authors conclude that evaluation should be a key component of all partnering programs and that a uniform set of data requirements would help establish "benchmarks and comparability" across programs. Evaluation helps attract future resources by reassuring funders that existing resources were effectively spent.