Howard Receives $2.2 Million to Strengthen Health Workforce Diversity

Award helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds enter health professions

Disadvantaged dental and medical students will receive retention counseling and mentoring designed to enhance their academic success.

Photograph by Justin D. Knight, Howard University
One of every 10 students graduating from the dental and medical schools will have benefited from the HRSA grant.

Photograph by Justin D. Knight, Howard University

WASHINGTON – The Howard University Health Careers Opportunity Program (HCOP), a collaborative effort by three of the University’s colleges to create a more diverse healthcare workforce, has been awarded $2.2 million by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

The University will receive $737,693 annually for three years to attract students to the health care profession beginning in kindergarten and ultimately train them to become physicians and dentists.  The first year grant is part of $9.7 million in awards HRSA awarded to 14 educational institutions recently to increase diversity in the health professions workforce through the HCOP.

The money is to help develop an educational pipeline for economically and educationally disadvantaged students, and prepare them for careers in the health professions.

At Howard, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Medicine and the College of Dentistry will work jointly.  Dr. Robert E. Taylor, who recently stepped aside as dean of the College of Medicine, was instrumental in securing the grant and  is the program director.

“The HCOP grants allows us to continue the essential mission of the colleges, which is to train promising students who desire to become physicians or dentists but who are from disadvantaged or underserved backgrounds,” Taylor said.  “This program is so important that before we received this grant, we supported it through funds from donation to the medical school.”

About one of every 10 students graduating from the medical and dental schools will benefit from the grant, Taylor said.

Dr. Mark S. Johnson, the new dean of the College of Medicine, said the program fits perfectly with the college’s mission to serve the underserved.

“In order for us to expand the pipeline of disadvantaged students who are prepared to enter college and subsequently careers in the health sciences, we must provide programming such as that which is included in the HCOP program,” Johnson said.  “We are proud to have been selected to continue our work in this area.”

Howard’s HCOP brings together three of the University’s colleges, selected K-12 schools of the Washington metropolitan area, and the D.C. Area Health Education Center. The program is designed to increase the pool of qualified medical and dental school applicants, facilitate their entry into professional school and ultimately increase access to quality health care for communities that are medically underserved.

The Center for Preprofessional Education in the College of Arts and Sciences will expose K-12 students to health professions careers.  The center will provide science knowledge enhancement activities for disadvantaged students in grades 7-12 and an academic summer enrichment program for underserved pre-medical and pre-dental students prior to their freshman year at Howard University. 

It will provide assistance to disadvantaged college juniors, seniors and graduates with the Medical College Admissions Test and the Dental Admissions Test.

Additionally, the College of Dentistry and the College of Medicine will offer disadvantaged dental and medical applicants who have been granted conditional acceptance a strong program of retention counseling and mentoring designed to enhance their academic success.

“This grant continues and sustains our efforts in increasing the pipeline of under represented minorities young men and women with outstanding potential for success as future health care providers,” said Dr. Leo Rouse, dean of the College of Dentistry. “This allows us to develop the next generation of health care providers who will continue our mission of serving the underserved.”

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