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MU Health System Partnership Aims to Improve Underrepresented Student Enrollment in Health Professions

Annual summit encourages students to try on health care careers

Thirty-four sophomore and junior high school students from seven states will spend three days starting Monday, June 10, experiencing careers in numerous health professions through the University of Missouri Health System's Cristo Rey Health Professions Summit.

The summit immerses underrepresented minority students from urban areas in the health care field as a way to encourage their interest. Students participate in sessions offered by the MU School of Medicine, MU Sinclair School of Nursing, MU School of Health Professions and MU School of Veterinary Medicine to learn about careers in medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ultrasound, pharmacy, speech, communication disorders and many more.

"We want students to have the experience of being a college student in the health professions at MU," said Kathleen Quinn, PhD, director of the medical school's Area Health Education Center (MU AHEC). "The hope is that we dispel myths and anxiety about being a college student on a large campus for these students, and encourage them to start thinking about a career in health care."

MU AHEC is funded by a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The goal of the program is to improve the number and experience of health care providers, particularly primary care providers, in underserved areas.

"With this partnership, our goal is to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities in health careers to address health disparities," Quinn said. "Health outcomes improve for patients if their health provider shares their culture, background, ethnicity and race."

The Cristo Rey Network consists of 25 private, college preparatory, Catholic schools nationwide serving underrepresented urban youth. The network has an extremely high rate of students who go on to college, many with scholarships. In fact, for the classes of 2008 to 2011, 88 percent of Cristo Rey Network graduates enrolled in college.

The MU School of Medicine is a national partner with the Cristo Rey Network and has been involved with the program for the past six years.

MU Health Magazine


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