Arizona students from disadvantaged backgrounds who aspire to health profession careers will be helped by a $2.2 million Health Careers Opportunity Program, or HCOP, grant.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration grant recently was awarded to Dr. Ana Maria López, principal investigator, Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs, or OMA, at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Tucson.
The UA is one of 14 institutions in the country to receive HCOP grants, which fund programs that provide students from economically or educationally disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to develop the skills needed to gain admission to and graduate from health professions schools.
HCOP works to address health-care disparities and increase diversity in the health professions by preparing students – from elementary school through graduate school – for success through mentoring, counseling, academic enrichment programs, financial aid assistance and other tools and resources.
The three-year grant will support OMA's long-standing commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion by addressing the needs of disadvantaged students seeking health professions careers.
"This award is of critical importance to meeting our mission to develop and nurture the health-care workforce of tomorrow, and it celebrates OMA's collaborative community partnerships with school districts, community colleges, Area Health Education Centers, health-care facilities and tribal communities," said López, UA College of Medicine associate dean for outreach and multicultural affairs, UA professor of medicine and medical director of the Arizona Telemedicine Program.
OMA's HCOP partners include:
- Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
- Northern Arizona Area Health Education Center
- Pima Community College
- Regional Center for Border Health, Inc./Western Arizona Area Health Education Center
- School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona, A.T. Still University
- Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center
- Sunnyside Unified School District
- UA College of Pharmacy
- UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
- UA Department of Mexican American Studies
OMA's HCOP encompasses novel electronic outreach efforts, including:
- social media and asynchronous and distributed learning opportunities (under the leadership of Dr. Ronald Weinstein, director, Arizona Telemedicine Program; professor of pathology, UA College of Medicine-Tucson; professor of public health, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health; and adjunct professor, department of biomedical informatics, Arizona State University).
- learning management systems (under the leadership of Douglas Taren, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of public health, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health).
- expanded pipeline programs (under the leadership of Theodore Tong, associate dean and professor, UA College of Pharmacy; and Dr. Oscar Beita, associate director, OMA, and program director, Arizona AHEC Program).
- cultural competence education (under the leadership of Antonio Estrada, professor and head, UA department of Mexican American studies, professor of public health, UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health).
- rural outreach (under the leadership of Kevin Driesen, director, Flex Program, Center for Rural Health, and assistant professor, UA Zuckerman College of Public Health).
- language access (under the leadership of Dr. Oscar Beita, associate director, OMA, and program director, Arizona AHEC Program).
- evaluation (under the leadership of Laurie Soloff, evaluator, OMA).
"This funding opportunity will expand and enhance OMA's existing pipeline efforts to support and serve the community and our students," said J. Lyle Bootman, UA senior vice president for health sciences and dean, UA College of Pharmacy.
OMA's HCOP encompasses a variety of programs for Arizona middle school and high school students, pre-health/pre-med college students and health profession students.
The HCOP builds on OMA's rich and effective educational outreach experience with programs such as Med-Start, which since 1969 has provided Arizona high school students a hands-on introduction to the health professions to increase the number of minority health-care professionals in the state and improve health care in rural and economically disadvantaged areas.