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James takes part on panel examining strategies to increase diversity in health care workforce

(ATHENS, Ohio—May 19, 2014) What are the most effective ways of recruiting more minorities into Ohio’s health care workforce?

That was the question posed to a panel of health educators and policymakers gathered recently by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio, a nonprofit organization that provides information and analysis on health care policymaking. Calvin James, chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, was invited to discuss successful minority recruitment initiatives at the Heritage College as part of the discussion.

“The Heritage College has long been committed to the underrepresented minority student population in the health care field and in building a pipeline for them into the workforce,” James said in an interview after last month’s panel discussion.

He pointed to several college initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and the participation of minorities in the medical profession:

Summer Scholars: Coordinated by the Office of Admissions, this program is available to 22 people each year who are economically disadvantaged, ethnically and racially diverse, or first-generation college students. The five-week program is designed to give participants a taste of the challenges and rewards of medical school.

Postbaccalaureate Program: This initiative focuses on academically preparing students who have strong potential but who have been unsuccessful at gaining entrance to Heritage College. The program assists 12 underrepresented minority students and/or Appalachian students annually through a yearlong program of upper-level science courses and some graduate-level courses at Ohio University. Once accepted into the Postbaccalaureate Program, students are guaranteed admission to Heritage College for the following academic year, provided that they maintain a 3.0 GPA and participate in other required activities, including the Prematriculation Program.

Prematriculation Program: This four-week summer program is designed to assist Appalachian students and underrepresented minorities who have been accepted for admission to Heritage College, as well as participants in the college’s Postbaccalaureate Program. The Prematriculation Program offers courses in physiology, anatomy, bacteriology, cell biology, endocrinology, medical terminology and immunology. Participants also attend workshops on study strategies, time management and financial aid, and they receive individualized academic counseling.

Office of Rural and Underserved Programs: Funded in part by a transformational 2011 gift from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundations, the office pursues an array of initiatives that address disparities of place (geographic diversity) in health care, with a goal of preparing students for practice in rural and urban underserved communities.

James has been involved over the past 25 years with Heritage College efforts to recruit minority and underrepresent students. He can recall early programs that reached back into elementary schools, bringing students to campus to inspire them to consider college and medical school. Other summer programs brought in high school students interested in health sciences so they could take science classes.

“First these programs were ancillary to the college,” he said. “It was more ‘How do we get students into the pipeline?’ They’re now integral to the college, woven into everything else. I’ve seen the successes of these programs.”

In addition to the panel discussion, the HPIO has developed a policy brief stressing the benefits of diversifying Ohio’s health workforce, such as increasing access to health services for Ohio’s most underserved populations. The document, titled “The Role of Diversity in Ohio’s Health Workforce,” focuses on strategies to increase the presence of racially and ethnically diverse populations, and individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and rural areas. The document can be downloaded at:

  Office of Communication
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
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Last updated: 01/28/2016