News and Reports

IU School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences launches high school program to increase diversity

November 11, 2015

The Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI is recruiting 40 Indianapolis Public School seniors to participate in a 20-week Saturday Academy program, a new academic initiative that is part of the federally funded IU Health Careers Opportunity Programdesigned to equip disadvantaged students with academic and social skills needed to graduate from a health-professions program.

Participants who successfully complete the academy will be eligible to receive a stipend of up to $1,240.

The Saturday Senior Academy will begin Jan. 23 on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. The students will meet for six hours that day and every Saturday through June 11.

The deadline for applying for the academy is Dec. 16. Students accepted into the academy will be notified by Jan. 6. To be eligible to apply, a student must be a senior with a grade point average of at least 2.5 and have completed two science courses, one math course and one English course with a C or better.

The Saturday Senior Academy is one of the initiatives created within the Health Careers Opportunity Program. The program was developed by the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and funded with a $1.9 million three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration to increase diversity in the health professions.

The goal of the academy and other Health Careers Opportunity Program initiatives is to prepare participants to enroll in, progress in and graduate from programs in the health professions, with a specific focus on the occupational therapy, physical therapy and physician assistant fields.

The Saturday Senior Academy will offer interactive and hands-on instruction in math, science, language and creative writing, as well as college-prep workshops. It will also feature small-group health care research projects, health-promotion activities, field trips and opportunities to shadow health care professionals.

"One of the things we want to do is nurture potential students -- socially, emotionally, and academically -- and support them as they move through high school and enter college," said Karen A. Duncan, project manager of the Health Careers Opportunity Program. 

One focus of the academy is to prepare students academically for college, particularly in math and science, Duncan said. "We want to show them the difference between the type of math and science they've had in high school and the type of math and science they will have in college, and then help them bridge that."

Beyond a focus on math and science, "the idea is to reach into high school and help students start thinking about and preparing for college if they are truly interested in moving into a health care profession," Duncan said.

The federal grant funding the program reflects a concern by policymakers and employers about the lack of diversity in the health care workforce and the low minority-student enrollment in health-professions programs.

"As the nation grapples with reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes and reforming the U.S. health care system, we must take proactive steps to ensure that we have a diverse, culturally competent health care workforce," said Health Careers Opportunity Program director Austin Agho, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at IUPUI.


School at IUPUI receives $1.9M federal grant to increase diversity in health workforce

September 3, 2015

The Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences has been awarded a three-year $1.9 million grant by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration to develop and implement the Indiana University Health Careers Opportunity Program. The initiative is designed to provide disadvantaged students with the academic and social skills to successfully graduate from health professions programs.Students participate in Doctor Camp/Camp MD, a student-led project at the IU School of Medicine

The lack of diversity in the health care workforce and low minority student enrollment in health professions programs concern policy-makers and employers because it is essential to providing culturally competent care to the nation’s burgeoning minority communities.

There is a need for an expanded educational pipeline to enhance opportunities for disadvantaged students to enroll and graduate from health professions programs and enter careers in the health professions.

 “As the nation grapples with reducing racial/ethnic disparities in health outcomes and reforming the U.S. health care system, we must take proactive steps to ensure that we have a diverse, culturally competent health care workforce," said initiative director Dr. Austin Agho, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. "The goal of the IU-HCOP is to support statewide and national efforts to diversify the health care workforce by using a comprehensive community approach involving the Eskenazi Health Center, the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, Ivy Tech Community College, Crispus Attucks High School, and the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana.” 

The project will target student populations in the Indianapolis area such as veterans, adult/non-traditional learners, minorities and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds.

“Eskenazi Health Center is grateful to be partnering with the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences," said Dr. Mark Bustamante, Eskenazi Health Center CEO. "We highly value progress in recruiting health care workers and providers from the local communities as they are most effective at understanding and meeting the particular needs of their own communities.”

Beginning this fall, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences will implement educational programs that will provide academic and social support for students at multiple levels (high school, associate degree, baccalaureate degree, and professional school).  The goal is to successfully prepare participants to enroll, progress, and graduate from health professions programs with a specific focus on the occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant fields.  Activities will include weekend academies, summer camps, and pre-health enrichment programs.

“This project is a great exemplar of the power community and university partners can have when they come together to address gaps in education and service,” said Dr. Andrea Pfeifle, director of the Indiana University Center for Interprofessional Health Education and Practice. “This collaborative effort will enhance the academic preparation and health careers awareness of Indiana students while also providing comprehensive support services to students enrolled in health professions programs.”

 “The John Boner Neighborhood Centers is excited to be partnering with the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in this important work to expand health career opportunities for our near eastside neighbors,” said James Taylor, CEO of the John Boner Neighborhood Centers. “This effort supports key goals in our neighborhood’s quality-of-life plan and the recent 10-year designation of our neighborhood as a federally recognized Promise Zone known as IndyEast.”

Dr. Rebecca Rebman, director of IU’s physician assistant studies program, is the program's co-director.  She will work closely with Agho and Pfeifle to coordinate promotional activities and efforts across the program's community partners.