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MU Medical School Forms Unique Partnership with Cristo Rey Network

School is first institution of its kind to become a national partner in helping disadvantaged high school students

The University of Missouri School of Medicine is the only medical school in the country and the only institution in Missouri to become a national partner of the Cristo Rey Network of high schools for disadvantaged urban youth. The unique partnership will strengthen the institutions' efforts to help students with limited educational options pursue careers in health care.

The Cristo Rey Network is comprised of 24 Catholic college preparatory high schools that serve nearly 7,000 urban young people. MU and the Cristo Rey high school in Kansas City have worked together since 2008 to expose Cristo Rey students to careers in health care. All 47 students in the Cristo Rey Kansas City Class of 2011 attended college in the fall. Of that group, 98 percent were the first members of their family to attend college.

"MU's medical school has long admired the quality of education Cristo Rey provides, and we're excited about strengthening our commitment to Cristo Rey's exceptional students," said Kathleen Quinn, PhD, director of MU's Area Health Education Center. "Becoming a national partner of Cristo Rey will help MU's medical school reach more economically disadvantaged students who might be interested in a career in health care or science."

Since 2008, a program sponsored by MU's Area Health Education Center has allowed students from Cristo Rey High School in midtown Kansas City to visit MU for three days each summer for an annual Health Professions Summit. More than 60 Cristo Rey students have already had the opportunity to try on careers in health care through a rotation of activities and informational sessions hosted by the MU School of Medicine, Sinclair School of Nursing, School of Health Professions, and West Central Missouri Area Health Education Center, which conducts a year-long health career curriculum specifically for Kansas City Cristo Rey students. As a Cristo Rey national partner, the MU School of Medicine will have the opportunity to host students from all Cristo Rey high schools.

"Without Cristo Rey, I wouldn't have made the connections to MU that I have now," said Maureen Tanner, an MU sophomore and 2010 graduate of Cristo Rey high school in Kansas City. "Because of the relationships I made with Dr. Ellis Ingram at the medical school and other staff on campus, I felt like I had a good support system at MU before I even arrived here."

Now pursing a degree in biochemistry, Tanner attended the MU Health Professions Summit for four years before enrolling at MU. In addition to her studies, she is a coordinator for a pre-college student outreach program led by Ellis Ingram, MD, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion at the MU School of Medicine. His office supports educational outreach programs for middle school and high school students in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City. At the same time, Missouri Area Health Education Centers coordinate educational outreach and professional development programs for students throughout Missouri, especially those in rural areas.

"We hope the students who benefit from our outreach and development programs will ultimately become successful professionals who give back to the communities where they were raised," Ingram said. "When it comes to medicine, data proves that students from underserved urban or rural areas are much more likely to return to those areas as physicians."

Cristo Rey national partners include both public and private institutions from across the country. MU and eight other institutions are among a new group of universities that are supporting Cristo Rey Network students at the national level.

"We are excited by the growing number of universities that want to partner with us to ensure that thousands of Cristo Rey Network graduates have access to a high quality college experience," said Robert Birdsell, CEO and president of the Cristo Rey Network.

A complete list of Cristo Rey national and supporting university partners is available here.

MU Health Magazine


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