Promoting Research Opportunities Fully--Prospective Academics Transforming Health

Investigator: Alicia Fernandez, MD
Sponsor: NIH National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities

Location(s): United States


Minority students appear to enter medical school with the intent of pursuing academic careers in similar (Latino) or only slightly reduced (African American) proportions as their white counterparts, yet fewer health disparities population (HDP) students indicate the same intent upon graduation from medical school or residency. Early experiences appear to strongly influence career choices, and early negative experiences may be particularly harmful to the academic career development of minority students. Multiple studies of minority and women students indicate that the academic medicine path is smoothed by appropriate mentoring and targeted social support to ease ongoing stress and overcome common and background-specific hurdles. Despite UCSF's stature as a preeminent research institution, and the existence of several well-structured research programs and opportunities for trainees, UCSF has not yet translated its outstanding success in the recruitment of HDP students into large numbers of HDP students selecting careers in academic medicine. We propose to use (c) mechanism to create an innovative education research program, PROF-PATH: Promoting Research Opportunities Fully--Prospective Academics Transforming Health. Based on social cognitive career theory, PROF-PATH will create new research training opportunities for HDP students from UCSF's four health professional schools; enhance the ability of existing programs in fully supporting HDP students in an academic career path; promote opportunities for early, entrance into successful research experiences, and increase the capacity of local research faculty to effectively mentor HDP health professional students in research. This ambitious program harnesses existing financial, administrative and curricular resources at UCSF. Recognizing that diversity in the health professional scientific workforce is in the Nation's compelling interest, this proposal outlines the approach of a multidisciplinary team at a major academic research center to harness and enhance rich existing resources to create an innovative, novel, health disparities population focused research education and career development program, PROF- PATH: Promoting Research Opportunities Fully--Prospective Academics Transforming Health. Based on social learning theory, PROF-PATH will integrate with UCSF's premier research training programs to create new opportunities for mentored research experiences and to enhance the combination of mentoring, academic, and research skill support necessary for diverse students' sustained success in research careers. This interprofessional program will include the participation of students from UCSF's four professional schools and counts with widespread institutional support.