Characteristics of Health Professions Schools, Public School Systems, and Community-Based Organizations in Successful Partnerships to Increase the Numbers of Underrepresented Minority Students Entering Health Professions Education

Minority student enrollment in health professions schools remains inadequate despite sustained efforts to increase and support underrepresented students. The Health Professions Partnerships Initiative (HPPI) began in 1996 with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The program challenges member schools to improve curricula and educational programs of partner school districts and colleges in order to increase the number of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in the health professions.

This article describes characteristics of health professions schools, public schools, and community-based organizations in successful partnerships to increase the number of underrepresented minority students entering health professions.

Researchers completed semi-structured telephone surveys between the fall of 2000 and the summer of 2002 with HPPS program directors and leaders of sponsoring agencies and conducted site visits at 10 program locations. An iterative qualitative approach was used to identify characteristics that supported and hindered development of successful partnerships. Major characteristics of successful partnerships included vision, commitment to community service, a respectful attitude towards partners and a committed, adaptive leadership and staff. For school districts, vision, support for teachers and a plan to involve parents all contributed to strong partnerships. Community-based organizations contributed successfully through stable leadership, commitment of resources and a shared vision for minority achievement.

The study concludes that successful partnerships can form the basis on which educational interventions are built. Limitations of the study include the definition of success that was used and the focus on a single program. Outcomes were not identified to track the numbers of children affected by programs or instances of lasting change in health professions schools.

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