Telling the Stories of the Health Professions Partnership Initiative

This article, the introduction to a supplement of the journal Academic Medicine, focuses on eight partnerships of the Health Professions Partnerships Initiative (HPPI) funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Six schools of medicine and two schools of public health were invited to write case studies addressing the challenges, barriers and solutions to producing so-called 'pipeline' partnerships with a variety of educational institutions. One of the primary goals of these pipeline partnerships is to increase the diversity of students entering the stream of medical professions.

The HPPI sites selected to contribute case studies described several commonalities, such as financial constraints, and communication gaps between medical schools or public health institutions and elementary and secondary educators. Eventually, however, all described how these barriers were overcome and goals could be established and met. Program evaluation also was critical, as was establishing funding sources once the initial foundation funding ended, and the existence of strong leadership from top administrators.

The author also describes some key issues facing programs that did not succeed in building collaborative HPPI programs. Many of the failed programs did not take into account the difficult issues facing public schools today, including the demands of No Child Left Behind, and competing demands on students. Some programs were unable to achieve a cultural partnership between the medical institution and the educational institution. Lastly, many projects had goals that were simply too large, too broad, or too vague. Nevertheless, the eight sites featured in the supplement, indeed each of the 26 sites in total, have a great deal to teach other medical institutions nationwide about preparing racial and ethnic minority students about to enter health professions. As a group, the eight highly successful sites featured in this article, present a powerful model of how educational and medical institutions can collaborate for the good of both, and for the good of society.