Summer Health Sciences course offers diversity scholarships

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Summer Health Sciences course offers diversity scholarships

Rising college freshmen, sophomores are encouraged to apply online
Bobbi Nodell

Schools of medicine, dentistry and public health at the University of Washington will jointly pilot a program next summer to prepare talented students of color for careers in the health sciences. Students who will be college freshman and sophomores next fall may apply between Nov. 1, 2016, and March 1, 2017.

In naming the UW as a site of its 2017 Summer Health Professions Education Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation pledged $355,000 for the first year and ongoing funding for the program. Funding covers 80 students' costs for travel to Seattle, on-campus room and board, and a small stipend.

This is the 26th consecutive year that the foundation has funded the UW to host intensive summer-education programs for students of color. The program was formerly called the Summer Medical Dental Education Program. In 2006, the School of Dentistry was added, and this year, the School of Public Health. 

"Scholars will explore how they can be active participants for change,” said Sara Mackenzie, assistant dean of undergraduate education at UW, a senior lecturer in the UW School of Public Health and director of the public health major.

The six-week curriculum involves the basic foundational sciences (biology, chemistry, organic chemistry and physics) as well as statistics. The curriculum is also designed to build on the students’ knowledge of the social determinants of health and health disparities through the lenses of social justice and service learning. 

The program also offers clinical shadowing and simulation experiences to give students a sense of the breadth of healthcare services provided at UW and in the community.

Laurie Bazan, a 2011 participant in the Summer Medical Dental Education Program, is now a second-year medical student at the UW. 

"I met mentors that looked like me and inspired me,” she said. “When I applied to medical school, I had people that I could turn to for advice.”

Since first receiving the grant in 1989, nearly 3,000 students have participated in the Robert Wood Johnson-UW program, one-third of whom report pursuing medical or dental school, said Danielle Ishem, director of the Summer Health Professions Education Program run by the UW Center for health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Over the past 10 years, the program has received 692 applications, on average, for 80 participant slots, she said.

“The program is truly transformational and continues to touch and impact students long after the summer is over,” said Susan Coldwell, associate dean of student life and admissions at the UW School of Dentistry.

The grant will be administered through the UW Center for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the School of Medicine. Leo Morales, chief diversity officer at the UW School of Medicine, is the lead principal investigator. The program will take place from June 18 to July 29, 2017.