Health Professions Partnership Initiative

An RWJF National Program

Field of Work: Increasing minority participation in all health professions, including medicine, by enhancing the academic preparation of minority students and nurturing their interest in health careers.

Problem Synopsis: The percentage of U.S. medical students who belonged to groups underrepresented in medicine (African Americans, Mexican Americans, mainland Puerto Ricans and Native Americans, including American Indians, Alaskan Natives and Native Hawaiians) grew substantially in the 1960s and 1970s. Representation of these groups decreased through the 1980s, however, and by 1990 minority medical school representation was worse than it had been in 1975.

Synopsis of the Work: Co-sponsored with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Health Professions Partnership Initiative (March 1995 through December 2005), engaged academic health centers to create partnerships with local school districts, colleges and community organizations to develop strategies to increase minority participation in training for and entrance into the health professions.

Key Results

  • National program staff reported that the initiative's projects "contributed approximately 2,000 minority students to the pool of applicants that applied to health professions schools further along" the educational pipeline.

    An independent assessment conducted by the University of Washington School of Medicine concluded, however, that it could not "provide evidence that [the program] will achieve [its] workforce goals, or even identify the best specific educational practices appropriate to their goals."

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